Brits look to Germany and Ireland to stay EU citizens
Ireland has seen a huge spike in UK applications for its passports and Germany has seen a similar increase from here.
Descendants of Jews who fled the Nazis and settled in Britain are looking to utilise their right to German citizenship following the result of the EU referendum.
Under Article 116 of Germany’s Basic Law, anyone who had their German citizenship revoked during the Nazi regime for “political, racist or religious reasons” may reobtain it. This extends to the descendants of those victims, while the Article does not require them to give up the citizenship of their new home countries. And with the UK voting to leave the European Union, many Jews in Britain are looking at taking up this option.
Michael Newman, the Chairman of the Association of Jewish Refugees, has already submitted an application to German authorities and said his organisation has received numerous inquiries about the situation.
However, he admitted that for some it was a struggle to come to terms with applying for citizenship in a country which committed such atrocities against their ancestors.
“Many of us are finding things out we didn’t know or being forced to take a closer look at our pasts. It’s appalling for some, a revelation for others,” he told The Guardian.
His grandmother arrived in Southampton from Cologne aged 27, a day before the start of the Second World War. His great-grandmother was murdered at the Chełmno death camp in Poland in 1942.
German authorities have reported a surge in the number of restored citizenship applications far surpassing the usual annual figure of 25. About 400 are currently being processed while a further 100 inquires could lead to further concrete applications. Those who fled Austria in similar circumstances are also entitled to reclaim their citizenship.
However, it only applies to survivors rather than including descendants. The news follows the huge rise in requests among those with Irish heritage looking to secure an Irish passport in the wake of the Brexit vote.
Officials at the passport office in Ireland called for calm as those eligible in the UK rushed to send off their applications. It was forced to hire additional staff to deal with the increase and last month Charles Flanagan, the Minister for Foreign Affiars, admitted that it was likely that the demand would be sustained.