Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Germany tests would-be citizens

This September, Germany is introducing a test for would-be citizens. This is part of the naturalization process in the US, and I myself prepped by memorizing the questions and answers (pulled from a list you can download from the US Citizenship and Immigration Services) and being quizzed by the Sheila; a new set of questions is going to be introduced in October ’08.

But back to Germany: the test is being implemented for the first time in the fall; applicants will be asked 33 questions and must answer 17 of them correctly to pass. Samples: What's the job of the opposition in the German parliament? When was the Federal Republic of Germany founded? Earlier on, however, the German state of Hesse had come up with its own set of questions, some of which would be unimaginable in the US (and were in Germany too, as it turned out, since they didn't make the final cut). For instance:

- A woman should not be allowed to move freely in public or travel unless escorted by a close male relative. What is your standpoint on this?

- Parents do not always agree with the way their children behave. Which educational methods are permitted and which are not?

- What possibilities do parents have to influence their sons' or daughters' choice of partner? Which practices are forbidden?

- Name two economic or business lobbies.

- The law forbids individual retribution. The victim of a crime may not take revenge on the aggressor. Who decides in matters of punishment?

- Johann Wolfgang von Goethe and Friedrich Schiller are considered Germany's most famous poetic artists. Name one work by each.

- One of the most famous works by the German painter Caspar David Friedrich shows a landscape on the Baltic island of RĂ¼gen. What is the painting's central motif?

- Every five years, the city of Kassel is home to one of the most important exhibitions of modern and contemporary art. What is the name of this exhibition?

- Which German physicist made a discovery in 1895 that has revolutionised medical diagnosis ever since?

These questions would also not pass muster in the US, because they of course are extremely leading in terms of social, political and, last but not least, religious background, but also assume a level of cultural knowledge that would be thought elitist here.

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