Posted on March 21, 2006

German State Plans to Introduce Citizenship Test

Expatica, March 18, 2006

BERLIN — The German state of Hesse plans to introduce a ‘citizenship’ test for foreigners wanting to become German.

The test, which has been proposed by the Hesse interior minister Volker Bouffier, consists of a six-point program. Applicants for citizenship should demonstrate sufficient knowledge of the German language, assert their loyalty to the country and answer a comprehensive questionnaire.

The questionnaire features 100 questions on German politics and culture, which range from relatively simple ones such as “What is the population of Germany?” and “What are the colours of the German flag?” to more challenging ones like “The German painter Caspar David Friedrich painted on one of his most famous paintings a landscape on the Baltic island Rügen — what is the picture’s motif?” and “The film ‘The Wonder of Bern’ had its cinema release in 2004 — which sporting event was it about?”

The proposal has met with a mixed reception. Federal Interior Minister Wolfgang Schäuble has said he approves of the test, but the Hesse Green party has complained the questionnaire is too long. Other commentators have asked how relevant the questions are for potential citizens, especially as many Germans would not be able to answer all of them correctly.

Hesse is the second German state to introduce a citizenship test. In January the state of Baden-Württemberg introduced a test for Muslim applicants for citizenship. In contrast to the proposed Hesse test, the Baden-Württemberg test, which has been heavily criticised by Muslim groups in Germany, asks questions about the applicant’s opinions on issues such as homosexuality and Islamist terrorism.