Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Do you qualify to be German?

I just read in Spiegel Online that from September on anyone who wants to become a German citizen will have to pass a citizenship test with questions to test applicants' knowledge of the country's history, politics and society.

From 33 question the applicants have to answer 17 correctly. Spiegel has a sample citizen test with 7 questions.

To my own surprise, I answered all of them correctly at first attempt without Googling, even the capital of whats-the-name! My sozi-teacher would have been delighted.


  1. I got 4, but was lucky on the numbrer of states, missed the capital, was thrown by the "age of responsibility" question which should have been a give-away. On the other hand, I knew that 1949 was the year the state was founded because soon after there were some fascinating economic problems that were solved around 1951. Somewhere around here I've got a biography of the first postwar German leader.

  2. I got them all right, but three on the second try. Apparently I guess well.

    Canada has a citizenship test. The factual questions like Spiegel had aren't difficult for educated people; it's straightforward to just learn all the answers. What I find harder are the cultural questions, like, "Give an example of how you can show responsibility by participating in your community." Many native Canadians I've asked find this one obvious in a way that I don't, being raised in the United States.

  3. I got 5 right, mostly by assuming things work the same as they do here in New Zealand ... and by guessing.

  4. A little common sense and a knowledge of how multiple-choice questions are set allowed me to get 7/7 correct -- which does not mean that I know anything about German society or culture. There has been a lot of controversy about a similar citizenship test here in Australia -- do you know what Don Bradman is famous for?

  5. 7 out of 7! Hooray! "Ich bin ein Berliner!"

  6. You are a jelly donut?

  7. a Berliner has genus 0, not 1.

    Btw, it is an in the USA apparently widespread myth that the sentence 'Ich bin ein Berliner' isn't grammatically correct in German. That isn't the case. You can perfectly well say so.

    See also, Wikipedia on The jelly doughnut urban legend

  8. Hi Bee,

    I must report I only scored 6 out of 7. The question concerning a young person under 14 as how they are treated under the law I made the mistake that they might have the same so called enlightened policy as Canada. However, if this is representative of the average difficulty as presented in the real test I believe as rillian that for a person having a fair general awareness it should not prove to be much of a obstacle. However, with the actual questions being asked in German, that would form to be my downfall:-)



  9. do you know what Don Bradman is famous for?

    For not scoring in his very last innings? ;)

  10. It's a good thing the city in question wasn't Hamburg.

    "Ich bin ein Hamburger" just wouldn't have sounded as good.

  11. You'd probably get, "Ich Kannen nicht verstahen sie(spelling?=understand?) a lot.

    What about Ein Stein?:)I thought beer, but in context of this statement below-"that takes a weight off my mind"

    da fällt mir ein Stein vom Herzen

    What could be imparted philosophically by name alone?

  12. Some of these questions are just 'Trivial Pursuit' - pointless data points - and not at all useful to understanding Germany.

    For example, 'How many Bundeslaender are there?' - does it matter at all whether there are 15 or 16 or 17? Would Germany be essentially different in any way if the number was one or two less or more?

    Ditto the capital of NRW ... you could live in Berlin for a decade and not have any reason to care or find out what the answer to that one is. So what is the capital of Mecklenburg-Vorpommern? Of Brandenburg?...

  13. Canadian: 3/10
    American: 8/10
    German: 7/7

    But I've never been to Germany and never studied anything about it. I did take some time thinking about each answer on the German test though.

    For the first question, I figured the Germans, being mathematically inclined, would go for symmetry (and "beauty"), so I guessed 16 because it equals (2^2)^2 = 2^(2^2).

    And then there were two DAH! questions ...

    Question 3 of 7

    What message did former Chancellor Willy Brandt want to send when he knelt down in the former Jewish ghetto in Warsaw in 1970?

    He was showing his submission to the former Allied forces.
    He was asking Poland's Jews and Poles for forgiveness.
    He was demonstrating his respect for the Warsaw Pact.
    He was saying a prayer at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.

    Ummmm ... DAH! ... lol

    Question 6 of 7

    In Germany the age of criminal responsibility is 14. What does that mean? If young people break the law ...

    ... the parents receive the same sentence.
    ... they are punished.
    ... they receive no punishment.
    ... they are treated the same as an adult.

    Ummm DAH! ... That's simple logic.

    (Either "punished" or "not-punished" must be true, so it is one or the other, and contextually, it is obvious which is true.)


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