La Mancha County Hall

A night fighting against tiredness and staring at piles of paperwork. Eventually gave up and postponed the horror until 6:00 am.
 
One gets an inbuilt defence mechanism when you have been living in Germany for some period and have got used to civil servants and bureaucracy. For the first twenty years or so, you get really worked up and angry but then as you get “deutsched” and a  little bit pragmatic, stop fighting windmills and finally know how to approach a 100-metre long civil servants corridor with 50 closed doors on the left and 50 on the right with tiny plates detailing the department within such as:
Zimmer 356
Herr Schmidt
Grundstücks­verkehrs­genehmigungs­zuständigkeits­übertragungs­amt
… then such things are easy. Don’t be put off my countrymen. Once you start to automatically start handwriting the number “7” with a hyphen in the middle and realise it isn’t a swastika mark, then you are fit to walk down that corridor with your head held high and with no only a little fear when you come to timidly knock on the right glassless door.
 
Contrary to what Boris, IDS and others have told you, getting German (and thus EU) citizenship is not as simple as swimming over the Rhine and clutching on to a bunch of reeds on the other side.
 
Here the full requirements that include you having lived in Germany for at least 8 years, be free of any criminal charges in Germany or any other country, have financial independence and do not receive social security, have passed tests in language and culture.
 
Refugees who haven’t been given the right to stay for a longer time are not allowed to work and are thus always dependent on social security thus stand no chance.
 
Being married to a German does not give me any rights. I don’t even understand why I had to have a copy of our marriage certificate or detail her income, family name, birthplace etc.
 
However, I had done my homework and have all the proof to fulfil the requirements. That is until you read the small print which I did at 6:00 am and before the fifth coffee had cleared my eyesight.
 
Handwritten curriculum vitae in “long form” (í.e, not in table form) detailing your full life from the cradle onwards and why you want to be a German.



Starts like this “ My name is Fred Smith, I was born on 1st April 1990 in Puddletown-on-the-Piddle. My parents were Betty and Bert Smith, Co-Op cashier and a police constable. At the age of three, I went to Ambleside kindergarten and apart from the incident when I whacked little Mary who had taken my crayon, I was a good boy and accepted the punishment of having to be  “man in the middle” during break time in the schoolyard, without crying.…………..”
 
NO, NO. She didn’t mention that yesterday in the list of things! I knew it was pointless to try and blame her at the meeting and no amount of childhood photos of me standing next to a clearly German old castle wall or being walked by my uncle dressed in Lederhosen would move her one little bit.


There followed four A4 pages of neat and relatively small handwriting with around 600 words. I hid it in the bottom of my full briefcase, packed with copies of everything I have done in the last 63 years and praying she wouldn’t ask for it. Same applied to other things and although not on the list, I was a bit concerned about not finding my last urine test.
 
Boldly I drove to County Hall and even got there ten minutes early. Boy am I getting to be German. Pointed by the friendly receptionist in the direction of the lift and told room 399. The long walk down that corridor of closed doors but occasionally taken off my guard by someone popping out with a tray of coffee cups, saucers and small plates with cake forks and scurrying to the coffee kitchen. It was after all 14:00  and afternoon tea had to be cleared before packing up at 15:00.
 
I found the door and confirmed the “Staatsangehörigskeitnantragannahmestelle” was correct. Tapped on the door, held my ear as close as possible and as always there came no reply. Slowly I opened the door just enough to see her on the phone and an Asian looking young man shake his head. Closed the door and took a seat outside. However, within a minute or so, she appeared and invited me in. We had never met but had numerous telephone conversations in the last year. Very friendly in a civil servants way but she didn’t introduce the person at the desk opposite divided from direct contact by a metre high shelf of books. He had no paperwork in front of him and observed us with crossed arms.
 
We started and the first few minutes went really well. While copying my German Culture test certificate, she waved it at the young Asian and said: “This is the test certificate I was telling you about”. He nodded and smiled. I never did find out what he was doing there – an apprentice perhaps?
 
She was actually great and finally, as she reviewed her checklist she said: “Oh yes, the handwritten CV!”. On the one hand, relieved but scared someone might read it and conclude my written German test certificate was a fake.
 
“Great” she pronounced. “Send in the copy of the official wedding certificate when you receive it and then when I get back from holiday in four weeks, I will put your application into the system and get the process rolling.”
 
NO, NO”, I didn’t say but screamed silently. I thanked her (and him) and wished her a pleasant holiday and left.
 
On my way down the stairs, I passed the floor with the head of the county council’s office with some plush armchairs and a couple of sculptures made out of scrap by an artist living in our county. One of these I thought was more than appropriate for today’s photo.


This is not a joke - German civil servants have a longer life expectancy than any other group and it gets longer the further up the heirarchy they are. This is from German's second most important serious newspaper reporting on the survey.

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