The Waxing and Waning of Loyalty in German Citizenship

This paper analyses the waxing and waning of loyalty in German citizenship. The paper focuses on three areas where loyalty historically played a role: military service, requirements that naturalisation candidates commit to support and uphold constitutional values, and debates over exclusive loyalty and dual citizenship. There is an asymmetry between loyalty and disloyalty. Germany no longer requires young male citizens to demonstrate their loyalty through military service. Nonetheless, perceived disloyalty, such as military service for a foreign state or terrorist militia, can result in loss of citizenship. Citizens are not required to show loyalty to the constitutional order but engaging in activities to undermine the constitutional order is incompatible with becoming a naturalised German citizen. For dual citizenship there is continued opposition due at least in part to concerns over divided loyalties but increasing toleration in bureaucratic practice. The revival of loyalty requirements in the late 1990s and after 2001 is a reaction to perceived failures of immigrant integration. Evolving human rights norms help explain the relaxation of loyalty requirements after 1945 but not their recent revival. Debates over political loyalty as well as dual citizenship show distinct partisan differences. Finally, both Hitler and the Weimar Republic cast long shadows.

Claus Hofhansel, The Waxing and Waning of Loyalty in German Citizenship, German Politics, 2021.