In March of 2016, German right-wing nationalist-populist political party Alternative für Deutschland took the second and third largest seat shares across three state-level elections. These electoral successes, in combination with the rise of anti-immigrant groups such as PEGIDA, have prompted a renewal of public discussion about what constitutes Germanness and who can really be German. This thesis engages with these two questions formulated thusly: (1) what does it mean to be a German national, and (2) to what extent do German citizenship and naturalization policies promote national exclusion? Drawing on the literature on nation and citizenship, this thesis takes a comparative historical approach to understanding German national exclusion by examining changes to the German national over time as well as taking a cross-sectional approach to contemporary legal developments. The first section draws on citizenship law in combination with popular debates over the content of the German national in order to construct an understanding of what it means to be German and how citizenship law produced and maintained legal boundaries around the national community. Further data includes analysis of the content of the citizenship test, which was introduced in 2007, and workbooks used in integration courses, introduced in 2004, both of which contribute to understanding how Ausländer are expected to “integrate.” The consensus understanding of the German nation and nationalism is currently that Germany is a nation-state that established itself through ethnic nationalism that has been shifting more towards civic nationalism. Ultimately, this study finds support, however, for the presence of longstanding barriers to citizenship predicated on being culturally national. Most notably, this study finds that what it means to be national is now cast in terms of Western liberal-democratic norms, which allows for and encourages essentialist distinctions between Occident and Orient.