Prof. Dr. Anna Benaki-Psarouda
Politician, Lawyer, emerita Professor of criminal law at the University of Athens, former President of the Greek Parliament 2004–2007
DAAD Scholarship 1957–1960
Born in 1934, Anna Benaki-Psarouda is one of the most senior and high-profile DAAD scholarship holders and has become something of a historical authority. She is a former member of the Greek parliament, was Greek Minister of Culture (1991–1992) and Justice (1992–1993) and the first female President of the Greek Parliament (2004–2007). Her approximately 30-year political career is actually her second one. Her first career began some twenty years earlier, in 1961, when she completed her PhD in law in the former German capital Bonn. The postgraduate student and DAAD scholarship holder wrote her dissertation in German on “Offenders and Accomplices According to German and Greek Criminal Law”. This study in comparative law helped pave the way for the legal harmonisation later required by the European Union. Greece joined the European Union in 1981.
The 19th century was an important period in German-Greek history.
After receiving her PhD, Benaki initially worked as a lawyer and lecturer at the University of Athens. After the fall of the Greek military junta in 1974, she also advised the Ministries of Justice and Education in the second half of the 1970s. From 1978 until she was awarded emerita status, Benaki worked as Professor of criminal law at the University of Athens. Since 2010, she has been a full member of the Academy of Sciences in Athens.
Up to the end of the 1980s, she returned another eight times to Germany for stays lasting a few months, either visiting her alma mater in Bonn or the Max Planck Institute for Foreign and International Criminal Law in Freiburg. Each trip was funded by the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation. Her official parliamentary website also had a German-language version – quite a rarity among MPs.
When it comes to the eventful German-Greek history, Benaki points particularly to the reign of Otto I. The Greek King reigned from 1832 to 1863 and was a member of the Wittelsbach dynasty in Bavaria. “This was a very important period in our history,” says Benaki. “It’s thanks to this dynasty and the German advisors that Greece made the transformation into a modern state.” Since then, the higher education system is only one example of Germany’s lasting influence on Greece.
The DAAD counts a total of more than two thousand alumni in Greece, with legal professionals traditionally making up the largest group. Anna Benaki is the most prominent alumna.