Karl-Theodor zu Guttenberg: The former defense minister is celebrating his 50th birthday

From a political point of view, the best years lie ahead of ex-minister Karl-Theodor zu Guttenberg. The “Doctor of Philosophy” turns 50.

Everything has changed. Also his hairstyle, once a trademark. The hair is no longer brushed back tight, the gel has been out for years. The optical message could read that he has put down the lacquer. And that’s a good thing, because Karl-Theodor Buhl-Freiherr von und zu Guttenberg has meanwhile come to an age when someone with a gelled mane looks embarrassingly out of place, as if he had fallen out of time. He celebrates his 50th birthday on December 5th.

Of course he looks younger, but that is the case with almost all 50-year-olds these days. In his case, however, you somehow get the feeling that your future is already behind you. Its popularity once reached heights that only rock stars, models, athletes or film actors achieve at a young age.

Most popular politician and “Man of the year 2010”

He was Federal Minister of Economics (2009), then Minister of Defense (2009-2011). He was by far the most popular politician and, according to various surveys, most Germans would have preferred to see him as the successor to Angela Merkel (67) in the Federal Chancellery. That felt like an eternity ten years ago.

It seemed as if he had come straight from one of those glossy magazines that paid homage to him and his family: offspring of the old Franconian noble family Guttenberg, the mother of a countess von und zu Eltz, whose ancestral castle once adorned the 500 D-Mark note, the father Enoch Freiherr von und zu Guttenberg (1946-2918), a famous conductor and Bach interpreter, the grandfather of the same name a veteran of the CSU. He was also married to the beautiful, blonde Stephanie (45), also from the best of circles, because she was born Countess von Bismarck-Schönhausen. A power couple, radiantly young and photogenic like no other.

It was the time of praise that fell upon him like a twinkling shower of falling stars. In 2009 the PR magazine “Politik und Kommunikation” voted him “Politician of the Year”, while the magazine “Deutsche Sprachwelt” praised the baron’s oratorical talent and his “honest handling” of language and proclaimed him “Sprachwahrer des Jahres 2009” .

For “Focus” he was the “Man of the Year 2010” and for the magazine “GQ” the “best dressed German”. The city of Oldenburg named him “Kale King”, the city of Rehau in his Upper Franconian homeland awarded him the “Golden Potato” and the Aachen Carnival Association the “Order against seriousness” because of his “courage to contradict and think outside the box”.

But no doctorate

The latter award was accepted by his younger brother Philipp Franz zu Guttenberg because at this point in time – in February 2011 – Karl-Theodor’s star was already beginning to decline in fast motion. He wasn’t even 40 years old then. It turned out that the Federal Minister of Defense, Dr. Karl-Theodor von und zu Guttenberg wrongly carries the doctorate. After studying law (1st state examination) at the University of Bayreuth, he received his doctorate in law with a dissertation on the subject of “Constitution and Constitutional Treaty” in 2007 with the grade “summa cum laude” (highest praise).

But in 2011 it came out: Guttenberg had largely used foreign texts in his doctoral thesis without specifying this. In his declaration of resignation, among other things the “SZ” published in full, he admitted “serious mistakes”, but denied having acted willfully. On February 23, 2011, the University of Bayreuth withdrew his doctorate from him, and a week later Guttenberg resigned from all political offices due to severe criticism. “The most painful step of my life,” as he commented at the time.

Emigration to the USA

The once so great hopeful of the CSU had not only said goodbye almost overnight, he had even completely disappeared from the scene. The family moved to the USA, there was talk of a new beginning, and it sounded like this: Everything, just no more active politics. Economically there was no cause for concern. The Guttenbergs are considered extraordinarily wealthy and are among the largest forest owners in Germany. They also owned considerable shares of the Rhön Clinic and the Palatinate Reichsrat von Buhl winery, the sales of which did not make the family poorer.

Initially, the ex-minister worked on a voluntary basis in Washington, DC, as a “Distinguished Statesman” for the Center for Strategic and International Studies. In 2013 he founded the consulting and investment company Spitzberg Partners in New York, which also had the now insolvent payment service provider Wirecard as a customer. He also advises Lufthansa and the EU Commission.

The family has residences in Greenwich (US state Connecticut), Berlin and in Guttenberg in Upper Franconia in the Stammschloss. Since returning to Germany, an estate in Hasbergen near Osnabrück / Lower Saxony has also belonged to the property.

Return to Germany

Wife Stephanie, who is a textile business administrator by profession, is meanwhile Shareholder of the Bonn social impact start-up BG 3000 for digital education. She is considered a pioneer in digital education and would like to sensitize young people in particular to the responsible handling of personal data on the Internet. The two daughters Mathilda and Anna have grown up to be young women. Mathilda (18) is a brilliant dressage rider, as she shows on Instagram, and studies at the University of California in Los Angeles. Her older sister Anna (20) returned to Germany with her parents, now lives in Munich, as the “Gala” magazine reported, and is a show jumper, like on her Instagram account is to be followed.

Karl-Theodor Buhl-Freiherr von und zu Guttenberg is now at an age at which the political careers of others are only just really picking up speed. One could also say: Politically speaking, the best years are still ahead of him – if he wants to. It shouldn’t fail at the doctorate, because the baron has it again. In 2019 he studied economic history at the University of Southampton, England, with a total of 488 pages Dissertation on the “correspondent banking” completed. The “Bild” newspaper reported in August 2020. His new academic degree: “Doctor of Philosophy”.


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