As if the recently retired economic secretary Patrick Graichen didn't already have enough trouble, there are now also allegations of plagiarism concerning his doctoral thesis. In the "Bild am Sonntag" newspaper, Jochen Zenthöfer accused him of "violations of good scientific practice" and "intent to deceive". In no other country are plagiarism issues negotiated as intensively as here. Apart from Austria, nowhere is the symbolic significance of the doctorate as high as in this country.

Slightly more than two percent of a cohort acquire the title in Germany. That is almost twice as many as in other European countries or in America. Our relatives from all over the world – be it in Israel, England or Canada – have asked us more than once what this love of the title is all about. Now we both don't have to pretend that we tick differently than the Germans. We are eagerly participating: One received the addition in front of the name more than ten years ago, the other is currently in the middle of the writing process.

Precious years of our lives

Why did we decide to dedicate some precious years of our lives to writing a doctoral thesis? Well, yes, there are many reasons. For migrants in particular, however, such a title is somehow always considered a seal of quality, according to the motto: Bravo, successfully integrated!

For Jews, the doctorate has been regarded as a symbol of successful integration since the eighteenth century. In 1784, the first Jew received his doctorate from the University of Leipzig. In Bavaria, Jews had to fight for almost a hundred years to get a call to a university. In 1869, the physician Jakob Herz was the first to become a full professor of anatomy in Erlangen.

The first Muslim PhD students

In the Weimar Republic, many Jews in Germany already had doctorates and professorships. When German Jews fled to Palestine in the early forties, they had to come to terms with their professional decline. A popular anecdote from that time is about two construction workers. One hands the other a brick: "Here you go, doctor," says one. "Thank you, Professor," replies the other.

The first Muslim doctoral students in Germany were less concerned with integration. In the twenties, they came from North Africa, India and the Middle East, among others, with the aim of completing their doctoral studies here. Interestingly, at this time, for the first time, a kind of milieu of Muslim intellectuals emerged in this country, which consisted of students, academics and some Jewish intellectuals.

Particularly well-known is the german-Jewish writer Hugo Marcus, who converted to Islam and became editor-in-chief of the first German-language Muslim newspaper "Moslemische Revue". However, many other doctoral students left Germany again, at the latest the National Socialist seizure of power forced some to return home. For example, for the chemist Khwaja Abdul Hamied, who had come from India for his doctorate, met his Jewish wife Luba Derczanska in Berlin and moved with her to India after 1933.