Global Journal of Interdisciplinary Social Sciences
Open Access

ISSN: 2319-8834


What Does it Mean to be a German? A Look at Changes in the Federal Republic of Germany’s Citizenship Laws

Jau-Yon Chen

Germany, once one of Europe’s most homogenous countries, has become one of the most diverse since the 2000s. The question of “What does it mean to be a German?” has been a topic of intense discussion and debate among all sectors of German society. Hence, how does this nation, which once prides itself on its racial and cultural homogeneity, adapts to the dramatic changes in demographic composition along with concepts of citizenship? This paper will explore the dynamics behind the conceptual shift of German citizenship, from Ius Sanguinis (citizenship by ancestral heritage) to Ius Domicilii (naturalization after meeting citizenship requirements) by addressing the following topics: conceptual framework of German citizenship, Germany’s immigration history, difficulties of procuring German nationality, and changes in this country’s citizenship law, especially under Gerhard Schoeder’s government. Finally, the paper concludes by answering the question of what it means to be a German in present-day Germany.