What does it mean to be a citizen? Citizenship is often taken for granted and is typically not something most of us think about very much, as it seems like such a “natural” part of who we are. However, this has not been and is not always the case, an issue brought to the forefront in Nazi Germany. Under Hitler, the full citizenship of Jews and other marginalized groups was incrementally taken away from them. One person who experienced this growing discrimination and elimination of what should be due to citizens was Dr. Fred Preuss. He was a German Jewish physician who moved to the United States directly before the beginning of World War II as a response to these oppressive measures that eventually deprived him of the rights of full citizenship, simply because he did not fit into the Nazi Party’s conception of an “Aryan” nation. Considering citizenship in such a context makes it seem more significant. What does it mean to lose the protection that citizenship should provide?
This “room” of the exhibit will look at the meaning of citizenship in the context of Fred Preuss’s journey from Germany to the United States. The links to the right ( “Life in Germany,” “The Nuremberg Laws,” “Becoming an American Citizen,” “The Meaning of Citizenship,” “About the Contributors”) discuss Preuss’s experiences in Germany before he immigrated to the United States, the Nuremberg Laws and the process by which the Nazi regime gradually took the Jews’ rights away, Preuss’s path to gaining American citizenship, a discussion about the general significance of citizenship, and finally, the contributions of those who made creating this room of the exhibit possible. I hope you enjoy your perusal through this room and the interesting story of Dr. Fred Preuss.