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Obtaining German Citizenship for Victims of Nazi Persecution

Michael Decker

Eden Weiss

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All German citizenship articles

In May 2020, the Federal Court of Justice of Germany expanded the circle of those entitled to receive citizenship, in accordance with new regulations of the German Nationality Law, easing the naturalization of Nazi victims and their descendants and eliminating the need to pass language proficiency tests, to stay for several years in Germany, or to meet a number of other requirements.

Our immigration law offices in Tel Aviv and Jerusalem have many years of experience in conducting genealogical research and locating documents of Jewish families who were forced to flee Europe during the years of the Third Reich. Our experts have a deep understanding of German law and can efficiently and professionally assist you in applying to the German authorities. We also specialize in obtaining Austrian passports for descendants of Austrian citizens who left the country between 1933 and 1955.

Obtaining German Citizenship for Victims of Nazi Persecution

The German Nationality Law has been revised over the past years, easing citizenship rules for Nazi victims and their descendants. In March 2020, the German parliament announced that it intended to enact new regulations in the following months, easing the various criteria that prevent millions of people around the world from being eligible for German citizenship and a European passport.

Who is eligible for citizenship?

The new provisions apply to Nazi victims whose German citizenship was taken from them due to their religion, race, or political opinions, between January 30, 1933, when the Nazis rose to power, and May 8, 1945. In contrast to the Austrian “Law of Return”, which allows anyone who remained in Austria up to 1955, as a refugee or otherwise, to receive citizenship – German law restricts eligibility to those who left Germany until the Allied victory in Europe.

In addition to Nazi victims, children and great-grandchildren of victims are also eligible to apply for citizenship according to the new regulations. This is the case even if the original citizenship holder is no longer among the living, since, according to German law, citizenship is passed down from parent to child by jus sanguinis (“right of blood”).

These new German citizens will not have to give up their previous citizenship. The law also applies to Jews who were residents of Germany in the 1930s but, because of discriminatory laws, were prevented from obtaining German citizenship. In addition, a generation may be skipped when applying for citizenship – that is, if a grandchild wishes to naturalize as a German citizen, they will be able to exercise their rights without the need for one of the parents or grandparents to naturalize first.

Further Changes in German Law – Important Information for those not descended from persecuted Jews

  1. Until 2020, any child born to a married couple prior to April 1, 1953, could apply for citizenship only if their father was formerly a German citizen. In other words, citizenship was passed down only through the father. However, today, also children born to a German mother up to the said date may apply for citizenship.
  2. Any child born to a married German father during 1914-1963 may legally obtain citizenship.
  3. A child born to a German mother during 1964-1974 may acquire citizenship only if they have no legal status.
  4. As part of correcting gender discrimination – starting from January 1975, any child born in a marriage will be able to obtain German citizenship if at least one of the parents is German.
  5. Any child born out of wedlock to a German mother may legally apply for citizenship. The same is true for a child born after 1993 to a German father.German Citizenship for Nazi Victims

Is It Possible to Receive German Citizenship Due to Staying in Germany?

If your ancestors were not Nazi victims in the 1930s, you can still obtain a German passport and German citizenship based on a long stay in Germany, after obtaining a temporary resident visa and permanent residence.

To undergo a legal naturalization procedure in Germany, you must stay there for at least eight years. The stay must be legal and, in addition, you will be asked to show financial abilities, as well as knowledge of German and the local culture.

In Short – A Historical Background of German Jewry

German Jewry in the 20th century was considered the most prosperous in Europe. German Jews were successful at most economic and Torah endeavors. This was why the German Jewish community was the largest in Western Europe, numbering 525,000 in 1933 – the eve of the Nazi Party’s rise to power.

However, due to the discriminatory racial laws and bans against them, over 300,000 Jews decided to leave for the United States, Britain, Canada, and more. In 1939 – on the eve of World War I, the number of Jews in the country was estimated at 214,000 in total. Today, most of these Jews’ descendants (whose ancestors left Germany from January 1933 and on) are entitled to a German passport, and our office helps in obtaining one.

Contact Us – Obtaining a German-European Passport for Descendants of Holocaust Survivors

Obtaining a German passport for descendants of Holocaust survivors and / or victims of the Nazi regime should be done through an office with a good reputation and many years of experience in the field of immigration. Our law firm is very experienced in obtaining a variety of European passports, and we have developed a special method for classifying eligible persons and assisting them in obtaining a German passport efficiently and without unnecessary bureaucracy or procrastination. We will be happy to help you obtain the documents required in Europe, translate Israeli documents into German, and assist you in the entire process until you receive your German passport. For more details, contact us and we will be happy to help you in the process of obtaining German citizenship for victims of the Nazi regime.

German Citizenship for Nazi Victims

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