Survivors can regain Greek citizenship

Greek Holocaust survivors who lost citizenship after leaving their native country in 1930s will be eligible to retrieve this citizenship.

October 16, 2011 04:12
2 minute read.

Greece. (photo credit: Courtesy)

Greek Holocaust survivors who lost their citizenship after leaving their native country in the 1930s will be eligible to retrieve this citizenship as a result of recent legislation, a spokeswoman at Greece’s embassy in Tel Aviv said on earlier this week.

Three Holocaust survivors went to the embassy this week and formally asked for Greek passports, the spokeswoman said..

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The legislation has been in the works ever since Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou, who has dramatically steered Athens’s policy toward Israel in a positive direction, took power in 2009.

Karolos Papoulias, Greece’s president, told a group of Greek Holocaust survivors he met with during his visit here in July that he would look into returning passports to the descendants of Jews who lost their citizenship in the 1930s. Among these Jews were hundreds of port workers who came from Salonika to build Haifa Port.

Some of the descendants of these workers, as well as descendants of Greek Holocaust survivors, are keen on regaining the Greek passport because it will enable them to live and work in any of the 27 EU countries. In recent years thousands of Israelis have sought European passports – primarily German – on the basis of their parents’ or grandparents’ ancestry.

There are believed to be around 100 Greek Holocaust survivors in Israel.

The passport issue came up in February when a delegation from the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations met with Greek leaders before coming to Israel for their annual conference.

At the time, Deputy Foreign Minister Dimitris Dollis was reported to have announced that Jews whose citizenship was revoked would be able to reclaim it. Legislation, however, was needed to make this possible.

Implementation of the new law “puts an end to one period and marks the beginning of a new one. This law makes possible giving Greek citizenship to Jews of Greek origin who, together with the tragedy of the Holocaust, also faced difficulties of emigration and being cutoff from the place of their birth,” the Greek Foreign Ministry said on Tuesday.

The law, the statement said, made possible the reconnection of Greece with a big part of its diaspora that, “together with their identity as Israelis, never stopped feeling Greek, loving Greece and following all its developments over the years.”

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