Descendants of German Jews challenge Berlin over citizenship rejection

Over 100 of such applicants established a group that aims to persuade the German government to change the law.

July 12, 2019 06:53
1 minute read.
Descendants of German Jews challenge Berlin over citizenship rejection

Children evacuated from Germany on the Kindertransport in 1938/1939 are given candies in Southampton, England. (photo credit: MAARIV)


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A group of descendants from German Jews who fled the Nazis is challenging Berlin over the rejection of their citizenship applications, the Guardian reported on Wednesday.

Over 100 of such applicants established a group that aims to persuade the German government to change the laws that make them not eligible for citizenship.

According to Article 116(2) of German Basic Law, former German citizens who were deprived of their nationality during the Third Reich on political, racial or religious grounds shall have their citizenship restored upon application, the group’s website explains. This also applies to their children and grandchildren.

However, several hundred applications have been rejected. 

For some, the reason is that their qualifying parents or grandparents left Germany before being officially stripped of their citizenship in 1941, so they are classified as having renounced citizenship voluntarily. For many others, the problem is that until 1953, German citizenship was only passed to children through the father, according to the report. Therefore, the children of German mothers born before 1953 are not considered eligible.

“It was emotionally a very difficult thing to decide in the first place to take the citizenship of the country that had been prepared to murder my mother – as it did 6 million other Jews – and then when I saw I was excluded because my mother had married a non-German, I never submitted it,” Sylvia Finzi, whose mother fled to London and married an Italian-Jewish refugee, told the Guardian.

The organization, called Article 116 Exclusions Group, is based in London. Some of the members decided to apply for German citizenship after Brexit.

According to the Guardian, when contacted about the situation, the German embassy in the UK declined to comment, while the German interior ministry sent a 900-word legalistic justification as to why the cases could not be considered differently.

“In relation to the significant rise in Brexit-precipitated requests for German citizenship, a number of reparation cases which have been turned down have been brought to the interior ministry’s attention. For this reason we are in the process of examining how these cases might be accommodated,” a spokesperson later told the British newspaper.

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