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Woman who was denied PhD by Nazis 80 years ago finally gets a doctorate at the age of 102

Ingeborg Rapoport, at the age of 102, achieved her dream of becoming the world's oldest person to receive a doctorate.

Woman who was denied PhD by Nazis 80 years ago finally gets a doctorate at the age of 102
Cover Image Source: YouTube | Nacht Magazine | News Zentrale

At the age of 102, Ingeborg Rapoport became the world's oldest person who was awarded a doctorate. This incredible accomplishment was due to the fact that almost 80 years ago, Nazi oppression prevented her from sitting her final exam. Ingeborg began medical studies in 1937 and wrote her doctoral thesis on diphtheria. A severe problem in Germany at the time. Unfortunately, due to her mother's Jewish heritage, the Nazi race laws prohibited her from taking her final oral exam. Despite this, Hamburg University was still willing to award her the degree had the laws not prevented her from taking the exam. Ingeborg had to wait almost eight decades for her dream to be realized. But it eventually happened in 2015, when she was presented with her doctorate at a ceremony at the university. Ingeborg was not alone in celebrating this incredible achievement, as her family, university staff, and even German Chancellor Angela Merkel were all present to honor her.


The Nazi oppression that denied Ingeborg her doctorate so many years ago has been replaced by admiration and respect as the world celebrates her success in achieving her goal at the remarkable age of 102. Ingeborg has become an inspiration to many and an example of how age should never be a barrier to reaching one's dreams. In 2014, Tom, a Harvard medical professor, contacted Hamburg University on behalf of his mother, Frau Rapoport, in the hopes of having her receive her degree, as she had been denied it due to her political views during the Third Reich. Hamburg University insisted that she take a viva examination, so Rapoport, an expert in neonatal medicine, prepared for months and passed the oral test at her flat in Berlin.

Hamburg university's dean of medicine, Uwe Koch-Gromus, was quoted as saying, "It was a very good test. Frau Rapoport has gathered notable knowledge about what's happened since then particularly given her age, she was brilliant" and she eventually received the doctoral degree at a ceremony on June 9, 2015, making her - by all available evidence - the oldest person ever to receive a doctoral degree.



Rapoport, who emigrated, penniless, to the United States in 1938, qualified as a doctor and worked there until 1950. But she was forced to return to Germany with the man she had married in 1944. Due to the couple being under investigation by American authorities who suspected them of being communists. She said that throughout her life, she had felt slighted by the Nazi refusal of her degree, and thousands of "non-Aryan" students and professors were expelled from universities in the Third Reich and many were sent to death camps. Koch-Gromus said, "With this belated graduation, we cannot make up for the injustice that has already occurred, but we can contribute to working through the darkest sides of German history at universities."

She passed away on March 23, 2017, in Berlin.

Image Source: Twitter/ @vijaymajha
Image Source: Twitter/ @vijaymajha


Ingeborg's story is one of strength and perseverance. It serves as a reminder of the importance of standing up for what is right and never giving up on one's goals. Her story is also a testament to the power of education and its ability to empower individuals, no matter their age or circumstances.


Ingeborg Rapoport's success is a remarkable one, and her story will serve as an inspiration to many for years to come. Despite the Nazi oppression that denied her her doctorate almost 80 years ago, she could still achieve her dream, making her the world's oldest person to be awarded a doctorate.

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