German Citizenship - Passport

Why Record Number of American Jews are Reclaiming German Citizenship

By Stephen Fuchs on Email @StephenWFuchs

In the aftermath of WWII, Jews who fled Germany to escape persecution, or had their citizenship revoked by the Nazi-led regime, have been given the option to reclaim German citizenship, including any descendents. In recent years the number of Americans filing these requests have been quite small, but in just the last few months the requests have skyrocketed, and the timing paints a pretty clear connection to the Trump administration.

“It’s about having a plan B”

According to new figures released to DW by the German consulate in New York, the typical number of applications submitted to their office in a given year might only reach 50 to 70. Just after November’s election, the New York office was flooded with 124 new requests to reclaim their ancestral German citizenship. Since then the numbers have steadily risen. In March, the consulate processed 235 new requests.

Many of the applicants have been upfront about their need for dual citizenship, and while there are some who have no political motive for doing so, there’s a growing number who do. “It was 99 percent motivated by wanting to have a way out,” Terry Mandel, a 63-year-old resident of Berkeley, California told DW. “It’s about having a plan B. I’ve always referred to it as plan B.”

This ‘plan B’ thinking is a common one among applicants, leaving many willing to ride out the current political climate before making any plans to pack up and move. It’s not out of the picture though.

“Germany feels safer and more receptive”

Mandel told DW that it’s a 50/50 tossup on whether or not she is prepared to move to Germany. “In the current political climate, globally, in Europe and the US, Germany feels safer and more receptive and accommodating and welcoming than many, many other places.”

Germany has a more relaxed set of citizenship guidelines, and Article 116, Paragraph 2 of the German Basic Law is quite unique. It’s an idea that’s quite foreign to most people, but it was also a small but important act for the German government as an apology for the horrific actions carried out by their predecessors.

The law states: Former German citizens, who between 30 January 1933 and 8 May 1945 were deprived of their citizenship on political, racial, or religious grounds, and their descendants, shall on application have their citizenship restored. They shall be deemed never to have been deprived of their citizenship if they have established their domicile in Germany after 8 May 1945 and have not expressed a contrary intention.

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Sources: DW

Photo: Christoph Scholz

Stephen Fuchs
Stephen founded German Pulse and LGBT Germany out of a passion to introduce Americans to a Germany that goes beyond beer and polka (although with enough beer he has been known to polka it up a bit). He's a coffee addict, lover of wine and good times, a hit in the kitchen and editor of TV commercials. You can follow him on Twitter (@StephenWFuchs) to find out a lot more.
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