102-year-old German Jew to Receive Medical Degree After 77-year Wait

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A screenshot from PRI.org of Dr. Inge Rapoport.Credit: Tom Rapoport (Courtesy)

Inge Rapoport, a 102-year-old German neonatologist, will reportedly receive her medical degree in Germany on Tuesday after waiting 77 years for it.

According to Public Radio International, the half-Jewish Rapoport (then Inge Syllm) was unable to defend her thesis on diphtheria at the University of Hamburg in 1938 due to "racial reasons."

After fleeing later that year to the U.S., she did hospital internships in Brooklyn, Baltimore, and Akron, Ohio before earning her M.D. at Philadelphia's Women's Medical College of Pennsylvania.

Soon after marrying an Austrian-Jewish physician and settling in Cincinatti, Rapoport and her husband moved to East Germany in 1950 after being targeted by the U.S. House Un-American Activities Committee due to their communist leanings.

Rapoport went on to found Germany's first neonatology clinic.

The University of Hamburg recently offered to right its wrong and award Rapoport her M.D. However, Rapoport insisted on properly earning the actual degree, rather than receiving an honorary degree.

After initial complications relating to bureaucratic challenges, the university's dean and two professors gave the nearly-blind Rapoport a 45-minute oral exam on diphtheria before approving her doctorate.

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