One year on

    Ian McMaster
    Von Ian McMaster


    A year ago today, I acquired German citizenship.

    The process had taken nearly a year and involved me photocopying every piece of paper in my flat — or, at least, it felt like that. But finally the day arrived and I went to the district officehier: Landratsamtdistrict office in Fürstenfeldbruck to receive my citizenship certificateStaatsangehörigkeitsausweiscitizenship certificate.

    My main motive was not, as many people think, Brexit. I had to apply for sth.etw. beantragenapplied for German citizenship well before the referendum in June 2016, which, like many other people, I had expected would result in a votehier: Abstimmungsergebnisvote to stay in the EU.

    You can’t acquire benefits without taking responsibilities seriously, too

    Instead, my motivation was to be able to vote in German federal electionsBundestagswahl(en)federal elections. I had lived in the country for 26 years at the time of my applicationAntrag; hier: Antragstellungapplication and was no longer able to vote in the UK. I wanted to be a full citizen of the country I lived in, worked in and paid taxes in.

    As a British citizen — and therefore (still) an EU citizen — I am able to have dualhier: doppeltdual citizenship. I to assume sth.etw. annehmen, vermutenassume this will continue after Brexit, if it really happens, but you never know.

    So how do I to assess sth.etw. bewerten, beurteilenassess the past year of being German as well as British? A few thoughts:

    Ian McMaster
    • I still to do a double takehier etwa: kurz innehaltendo a double take when people ask me my nationality. My first instinct is to say “British”, then I quickly add “well, actually I’m British and German”. That usually gets the conversation going.
    • I feel no divided loyalty or conflict between my two citizenships. The UK, and England specifically, will always be my home country. I will always support (normally, in vainvergeblichin vain) the England football team — yes, also when they to play sb.hier: gegen jmdn. antreten (im Sport)play Germany. Deal with it. At the same time, I will to uphold a country’s lawsdie Gesetze eines Landes einhaltenuphold Germany’s laws and its constitutionVerfassungconstitution, and pay all my taxes. Where’s the problem?
    • Staying on the topicThematopic of football, with my German citizenship I theoretically acquired four World Cup wins. But I feel no joy or pride in these victories, as I wasn’t supporting the teams at the time. Indeed, I wasn’t even alive in 1954. (Pub quiz question: how often has Germany won the World Cup? No, not four times, but only once, in 2014. The other wins — 1954, 1974 and 1990 — were by West Germany. Just saying.etwa: Das sei hier gesagt.Just saying.)
    • More seriously, I do feel a newly-acquired historical responsibility to help to ensure sth.etw. sicherstellenensure that Germany never again repeats the evil carried out in its name in the 20th century. This includes strictly to oppose sth.sich etw. widersetzenopposing any form of discrimination. You can’t acquire the benefits of citizenship without taking the responsibilities seriously, too.

    A few years after I left Britain in 1989, the country was to be nicknamedden Spitznamen tragennicknamedCool Britannia” as a result of increased pride in its popular culture. And last week, The Economist to dub sb./sth.jmdn./etw. nennendubbed my new home “Cool Germany”. Germany, the weekly newspaper said, “is becoming more diversevielfältigdiverse, open, informal and hipangesagthip”.

    The Economist also pointed out that a more inclusive identity is to emergeaufkommenemerging: “a country that waited until 2000 to extend citizenship to many of those without native ancestorVorfahre/Vorfahrinancestors increasingly defines nationality in civiczivilgesellschaftlichcivic rather than ethnic terms”.

    On the first anniversityJahrestaganniversary of my citizenship, I will be raising a glass to that progress.


    In his blog, Ian McMaster has been commenting on global business issues since 2002. For older entries, see the blog archive on our former website.