102-Year-Old Jewish Woman to Receive Doctorate in Germany

June 9, 2015 Updated: June 9, 2015
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BERLIN— Ingeborg Syllm-Rapoport wasn’t allowed to defend her doctoral thesis in 1938 under the Nazis because she was part-Jewish. Now, 77 years later, she’s completed all the requirements and is becoming Germany’s oldest recipient of a doctorate at age 102.

The neonatologist — a specialist in caring for newborns — last month passed an oral exam and is receiving her doctorate Tuesday at the University of Hamburg. The university says that “cannot undo the injustice she suffered … but can contribute to rehabilitating the darkest chapter of German history.”

Syllm-Rapoport emigrated to the United States in 1938 and worked as a pediatrician, before moving with her husband, a socialist like herself, to East Berlin in 1952. The mother of four was the first head of the neonatology at Berlin’s Charite hospital.