To belong – or not? This question triggers strong, even conflicting feelings. Citizenship bundles many of these feelings. It is a status of law that brings people together and separates them at the same time. It establishes national and political community, but it also marks a difference and precedence over those outside the community.
Fig. above: “Citizenships. France, Poland, Germany since 1789” DHM/Eric Tschernow
Through its connection with the modern nation state, citizenship became the object of struggles for belonging and participation. It allocated rights to state services of general interest and political co-determination and determined who, as a conscript, had to dedicate his or her life to the state. Citizenship thus contributed to the construction of national, collective notions of identity and became the central instrument for the distribution of opportunities for life and survival in the European states of the 19th and 20th centuries.
With the exhibition “Citizenships. France, Poland, Germany since 1789”, the German Historical Museum illuminates the changing meaning and mobilising power of citizenship in a passage from the “long” 19th century to the present: it rose to become the dominant form of political affiliation in the age of the nation state, was used by dictatorships as an instrument of ethnic and political selection, and is taking on a new shape in the citizenship of the supranational European Union. The exhibition shows this on the basis of three European countries: France, Poland and Germany. As neighbouring states, they were and are existentially intertwined by sharp conflicts and close political cooperation.
Deutsches Historisches Museum
Unter den Linden 2
Friday, 1 July to Sunday, 15 January, from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.
8 €, reduced 4 €, free admission for under 18s