The June 2016 Brexit vote in favor of the UK leaving the European Union has resulted in a rise in the number of British citizens inquiring about an alternative European citizenship, the most popular destination being Germany and Ireland, Deutsche Welle reported. The German Embassy in London announced that on the first week after Brexit it dealt with about 200 inquiries a day, compared with the usual 20. Since then, the Germans have been fielding some 100 inquiries a day throughout the summer.
According to CBC News, these include some descendants of Jewish refugees who escaped Nazi Germany to settle in the UK, who now wish to claim their German citizenship. German law allows anyone stripped of their German citizenship by the Nazis “on political, racial or religious grounds” between 1933 and 1945 to reclaim it, and this includes their descendants.
“I’m like, OK, if I don’t have to give up my British passport, don’t have to speak German and don’t have to have residency, then why not? What do I have to lose?” author and journalist Thomas Harding, whose book “Hanns and Rudolf: The German Jew and the Hunt for the Kommandant of Auschwitz” was published in 2013 by Random House and Simon & Schuster, told CBC.
Harding came from the kind of Jewish refugee family who wouldn’t buy a German car or appliance when he was growing up, never mind reclaim its German citizenship. But he already knows what he would say to those polite German officials who would question him on his motives for coming home to the fatherland. “We never rejected Germany, Germany rejected us,” Harding offers his eloquent explanation. “We were German citizens and the Nazis ceased our citizenship in 1939. My grandmother always felt part of Germany.”
In 1993, a trip He took with his grandmother, Elsie, to look for her family’s summer home, seized by the Nazis in a village near Berlin, became the subject of Harding’s latest book, “The House by the Lake.” So that for Harding Brexit was not so much the reason as the final push for his return to his ancestral country.
An estimated 70,000 Jews fled Nazi persecution to the UK from Germany, Austria and Central Europe before the start of WW2. About 10,000 Jewish children came on the Kindertransport. Today, a German passport offers their descendants the freedom to travel, live and work anywhere in the 28 EU nations, which other Britons have given up with their Brexit vote.
Of course, most of the UK’s estimated 260,000 Jews wouldn’t dream of applying for any EU passport, never mind the German one, although some, we are led to understand, are considering applying for a Blue passport, the one that comes with that controversial anthem, Hatikva.David Israel