Germany's Bundestag Passes Legislation to Naturalize Some Nazi Victims' Descendants #germany #holocaust #announcements
Jan Meisels Allen
The German Bundestag (Parliament) passed legislation on June 25 to naturalize some Nazi victim’s descendants who had previously been denied citizenship. This “reparation citizenship” passed the lower house of the Bundestag before summer recess. This addressed the closure of legal loopholes which ed to descendants of people who fled Nazi Germany to escape persecution having their applications for a German passport rejected. The citizenship law was also updated to bar naturalization of people convicted of racist, anti-Semitic or xenophobic act.
Germany has permitted descendants of Jews to reclaim citizenship for a while, but applicants were rejected before a rule change in 2019 due to the absence of a legal framework. Some were denied because their ancestors fled Germany and took on another nationality before their citizenship was officially revoked. Others were rejected because they were born to a German mother and non-German father before April 1, 1953.
A legal decree was passed in 2019 to help close these loopholes. Now that it has passed the lower house of Germany's Bundestag, with a large majority, prospective applicants will have a firmer legal footing for their appeal.
The law does also cover those who were directly deprived of their citizenship but, given the passage of time, descendants will be the main beneficiaries.
Applications for the passport will be free and beneficiaries may retain other citizenships.
Those interested must present proof that their ancestors were persecuted in Germany under Adolf Hitler between 1933 and 1945 or belonged to a persecuted group including Jews and Sinti and Roma as well as political dissidents and the mentally ill.
The difficulties for some in using ancestry claims for citizenship came into focus partly due to the sharp rise in number of applications from Britons evoking Nazi persecution of their ancestors, after the UK voted to leave the European Union.
Applications increased 4 fold from 2015 to 2018.
Jan Meisels Allen
Chairperson, IAJGS Public Records Access Monitoring Committee