Annette Schavan

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Annette Schavan
Minister of Education and Research
In office
22 November 2005 – 14 February 2013
ChancellorAngela Merkel
Preceded byEdelgard Bulmahn
Succeeded byJohanna Wanka
Minister of Education, Youth and Sports of Baden-Württemberg
In office
19 July 1995 – 5 October 2005
Preceded byMarianne Schultz-Hector [de]
Succeeded byHelmut Rau [de]
Personal details
Born (1955-06-10) 10 June 1955 (age 68)
Jüchen, West Germany
Political partyChristian Democratic Union (CDU)
Alma materUniversity of Bonn
University of Düsseldorf

Annette Schavan (pronounced [aˈnɛtə ʃaˈvaːn] ; born 10 June 1955) is a German politician of the Christian Democratic Union (CDU). She was the Federal Minister of Education and Research in the government of Chancellor Angela Merkel from 2005 to 2013, when she resigned following the revocation of her doctorate due to plagiarism. From 2014 until 2018 she served as the German Ambassador to the Holy See. From April 2018, she also briefly served as first German Ambassador to the Sovereign Military Order of Malta.[1]

Throughout her political career, Schavan was widely known to be a friend and a confidante of Merkel's.[2][3]

Early life[edit]

Schavan was born in Jüchen on 10 June 1955.[4]

Political career[edit]

Career in state politics[edit]

From 1995 until 2005, Schavan served as State Minister of Cultural Affairs, Youth, and Sports for the German state of Baden-Württemberg in the governments of successive minister-president Erwin Teufel and Günther Oettinger. During this time, she oversaw school education in Baden-Württemberg. One controversy that erupted during this time was when a Muslim teacher was banned from wearing a head scarf in school, as that was interpreted as a religious symbol, while at the same time allowing Catholic nuns to wear their traditional habits. The argument was that the habits of nuns and monks have an official function, while a Muslim headscarf is optional.

Schavan was regarded as a possible Christian Democratic candidate for Germany's presidency in 2004, but Horst Köhler was nominated and elected instead. In 2005, she attempted to succeed Erwin Teufel as Minister-President of Baden-Württemberg, but she was defeated by her rival Günther Oettinger in the internal elections of the CDU. Oettinger's referendum win – with 60.6 percent of the vote versus 39.4 percent for Schavan – was widely seen at the time as a defeat for Teufel, who had promoted Schavan as his preferred successor.

Under the leadership of party chairwoman Angela Merkel, Schavan was re-elected vice-chairwoman of the CDU in November 2006, this time alongside minister-presidents Roland Koch, Jürgen Rüttgers and Christian Wulff.[5]

Schavan in 2004

Minister of Education and Research, 2005–2013[edit]

Schavan served as Federal Minister of Education and Research from 2005 to February 2013. Following the 2009 federal elections, she was part of the CDU/CSU team in the negotiations with the FDP on a coalition agreement. She led her party's delegation in the working group on education and research policy; her co-chair of the FDP was Andreas Pinkwart.

In an effort to increase the share of female university lecturers and tenured professors, Schavan introduced a €150 million equal-opportunities program under which the federal government paid the salary of between one and three additional posts for highly qualified female academics that proved a commitment to redressing the gender imbalance.[6]

In 2010, Schavan led efforts to enlist imams educated at German universities to improve the integration of young Muslims. Under a plan devised by the German Council of Science and Humanities, imams were to be trained at two or three German universities, in accordance with the German curriculum. In addition to theology, the new preachers would also study education and community organizing. In a competition, the universities of Tübingen, Münster and Osnabrück were selected for the program.[7]

On the occasion of the sixtieth anniversary of the diplomatic relations between Germany and India, Schavan participated in the first joint cabinet meeting of the two countries' governments in Delhi in May 2011.[8]

In 2012, Schavan chaired the Joint Science Conference (GWK), a body which deals with all questions of research funding, science and research policy strategies and the science system that jointly affect the federal government and the 16 federal states.

Following her resignation, Schavan was succeeded by Johanna Wanka.[9]

Life after politics[edit]

Ahead of the Christian Democrats' leadership election in 2018, Schavan publicly endorsed Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer to succeed Angela Merkel as the party's chair.[10][11][12]

In April 2023, Schavan was one of the 22 personal guests at the ceremony in which Angela Merkel was decorated with the Grand Cross of the Order of Merit for special achievement by President Frank-Walter Steinmeier at Schloss Bellevue in Berlin.[13]


Amid the plagiarism scandal that led to the resignation of Karl-Theodor zu Guttenberg as Minister of Defence of Germany on 1 March 2011, Schavan was quoted in Der Spiegel as saying that "intellectual theft is not a small thing".[14] In 2012, a blogger with the pseudonym Robert Schmidt who is a member of the research-network VroniPlag Wiki alleged he had found plagiarism in Schavan's PhD thesis,[15] entitled "Character and conscience – Studies on the conditions, necessities, and demands on the development of conscience in the present day."[16][17] The University of Düsseldorf conducted an investigation into the plagiarism charge. Investigators found paraphrasing of secondary literature without naming the source in over 60 cases in the dissertation and thereby on 5 February 2013 revoked her doctorate degree because of "systematic and premeditated" deception.[18][19]

On 9 February 2013, it was reported that chancellor Angela Merkel had accepted Annette Schavan's resignation. Schavan continued to deny any wrongdoing and pursued a court appeal against the process by which the university had revoked her doctorate.[20][21] On 20 March 2014 a Düsseldorf court [de] rejected her appeal, however.[22]

Other activities (selection)[edit]

Political positions[edit]

Following the death of Pope John Paul II, Schavan – then serving as deputy chairperson of the Central Committee of German Catholics, the church's lay organisation – demanded that the "we need more lively local churches, and therefore also more autonomy [from Rome] for local parishes".[31]

For the 2021 national elections, Schaven endorsed Armin Laschet as the Christian Democrats' joint candidate to succeed Chancellor Angela Merkel.[32]



  1. ^ "First german Ambassador presents her credentials to the Lieutenant of the Grand Master". Sovereign Military Order of Malta. 27 April 2018. Archived from the original on 2 January 2021. Retrieved 27 June 2018.
  2. ^ Nicholas Kulish and Chris Cottrell (9 February 2013), German Fascination With Degrees Claims Latest Victim: Education Minister The New York Times.
  3. ^ Ralf Neukirch (11 October 2005), Germany's New Chancellor: Merkel's Surprising Rise to the Top Spiegel Online.
  4. ^ "Alle Infos & News zu Annette Schavan". (in German). Retrieved 15 August 2019.
  5. ^ CDU-Stellvertreter: Merkels bunte Truppe n-tv, 27 November 2006.
  6. ^ Universities Rewarded for Hiring Women Professors Spiegel Online, 4 September 2008.
  7. ^ Andrea Brandt and Maximilian Popp (16 September 2010), Imams Made in Germany: Will Efforts to Train Homegrown Muslim Leaders Fail? Spiegel Online.
  8. ^ Günther Bannas (30 May 2011), Hoffnung auf „Eurofighter“-Geschäft: Erste deutsch-indische Regierungskonsultationen Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung.
  9. ^ "Merkel Loses Minister: Schavan Steps Down amid Plagiarism Scandal". Der Spiegel. 9 February 2013. Retrieved 9 February 2013.
  10. ^ Christian Rothenberg (5 December 2018), So groß sind die Lager der Unterstützer für Merz, Spahn und Kramp-Karrenbauer Handelsblatt.
  11. ^ Christopher Ziedler (4 December 2018), Umfragen für AKK, Wahlaufrufe für Merz Stuttgarter Zeitung.
  12. ^ Maria Stöhr (6 December 2018), Kampf um die Merkel-Nachfolge: Wer wählt wen? Der Spiegel.
  13. ^ Kati Degenhardt (17 April 2023), Merkels emotionaler Dank: "Er hatte Vieles auszuhalten" T-Online.
  14. ^ Charles Hawley (1 March 2011), The Downfall of Defense Minister Guttenberg Spiegel Online.
  15. ^ "Schavanplag". Schavanplag. Retrieved 9 February 2013.
  16. ^ Vogel, Gretchen (May 2012). "German Research Minister Faces Plagiarism Allegations". ScienceInsider. Retrieved 9 February 2013.
  17. ^ Christoph Titz: Anonymous Schavan-accuser: „I don't want this evidence to be suppressed“. In: Spiegel Online. 5. Mai 2012. (ger.)
  18. ^ "Education minister loses doctorate for plagiarism". The Local. 5 February 2013. Retrieved 9 February 2013.
  19. ^ Jörg Diehl & Oliver Trenkamp (6 February 2013). "Plagiarism Accusations: Merkel's Education Minister Has PhD Title Revoked". Spiegel Online. Retrieved 9 February 2013.
  20. ^ "German education minister quits over PhD plagiarism". the Guardian. 9 February 2013. Retrieved 13 October 2022.
  21. ^ "Plagiatsaffäre - Alle Fälle von A-Z | Business And Science" (in German). Retrieved 6 August 2019.
  22. ^ "VG Düsseldorf · Urteil vom 20. März 2014 · Az. 15 K 2271/13". 20 March 2014. Retrieved 21 December 2017.
  23. ^ Foundation Remembrance, Responsibility and Future (EVZ).
  24. ^ Von Rom nach Aachen: Annette Schavan neue Vorsitzende im Aachener Dom-Kuratorium Domradio, 16 February 2018.
  25. ^ Board of Trustees Munich School of Philosophy.
  26. ^ Board of Trustees Hertie Foundation.
  27. ^ Advisory Council Archived 27 October 2016 at the Wayback Machine German Cancer Research Center (DKFZ).
  28. ^ Honorary Senate Lindau Nobel Laureate Meetings.
  29. ^ [Board of Trustees] Academy of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Rottenburg-Stuttgart.
  30. ^ Board of Trustees Hermann Kunst Foundation for the Promotion of New Testament Textual Research.
  31. ^ Hugh Williamson (7 April 2005), German Catholics seek a more liberal successor Financial Times.
  32. ^ Nikolaus Harbusch, Ralf Schuler and Julius Böhm (April 17, 2021), Merkel-Vertraute Schavan attackiert CSU-Chef: „Söder hat den verabredeten gemeinsamen Weg verlassen“ Bild.
  33. ^ Ehrendoktorwürde für Annette Schavan University of Lübeck, press release of 11 April 2014

External links[edit]