Getting a German Passport for Descendants of Nazi Victims
In May 2020, new amendments were made to the German citizenship law, which expanded the number of people who are eligible for a German passport. Our law firm has extensive experience in genealogical research and finding the necessary documents to prove that your family is entitled to receive a German passport as victims of the Nazis. Our experts will guide you through every step of the process in the most efficient and dedicated manner, providing answers to any questions you may have and ensuring that you have all the information you need.
Why do you need legal assistance in this process?
The process of obtaining German citizenship can be lengthy, complicated, and even confusing. Not having the proper documents or misunderstanding the requirements can prolong the process and even lead to rejection. That’s why we recommend reading this article carefully, taking your time to understand if you or your family meet the qualifications, and contacting us for guidance on how to increase your chances of obtaining citizenship, if you are legally eligible. This article will provide you with a basic understanding of the process before you begin.
So, what are the rules in a nutshell?
Following a 2021 amendment, the German Citizenship Law in its current form significantly expanded the list of those eligible for German citizenship through the naturalization process. The law applies to German Jews whose citizenship was revoked in the 1930s and 1940s due to racial laws, as well as to their descendants (including children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren).
How many descendants are eligible for a German Passport?
Estimates speak of about 3-4 million potential eligible individuals worldwide, who could become citizens by virtue of their personal eligibility or based on intergenerational ties. You can find a detailed explanation of this issue in another article published on our website, which deals with eligibility for German citizenship and answers frequently asked questions on the subject.
A brief about the Jewish community in Germany
In the early 20th century, the Jewish community in Germany was thriving and considered one of the most successful among Jewish communities in Europe. They were financially well-off and had a vibrant religious community, with a population of approximately 525,000 people. Jewish people in Germany were fully integrated into the society and had a significant contribution in the cultural, scientific, economic, and social life of the country. They were doctors, lawyers, scientists, teachers, businessmen, artists, and they were proud of their German identity.
However, this prosperity ended abruptly when the Nazi regime, led by Adolf Hitler, came to power in 1933. Jews in Germany were subject to discriminatory laws, racism, and hate. They were stripped of their rights and German citizenship, and were forced to leave their homes and businesses. The persecution of Jews in Germany reached its horrific peak during the Holocaust, when six million Jews were murdered by the Nazis and their collaborators.
Many Jews escaped to other countries such as England, the United States, Canada, and even Israel, where they had to rebuild their lives from scratch. By 1939, the number of Jews living in Germany had dropped to approximately 214,000. Today, descendants of the Jewish community that were forced to leave their homes and give up their rights are eligible to acquire German citizenship through the process of re-naturalization.
Expert lawyers who help obtain German citizenship and passport
Our office is here to assist and guide you and your family through this process. We will provide you with resources and help you find the necessary documents in the most efficient and precise way. We understand that the process can be complicated and confusing, that’s why we wrote down the most common and basic questions to assist you with the process. We are committed to help you regain your rights and your German identity.
Who is eligible for German Citizenship by Jewish family origin?
It is important to note that our focus is mainly on determining eligibility for German citizenship for individuals and descendants of the Jewish community who were persecuted by the Nazi regime during World War II. There are other methods for obtaining German citizenship and we will discuss these options below.
Individuals who were persecuted by the Nazi regime and had their German nationality taken away on political, racial, or religious grounds between 1933 and 1945, as well as their descendants, may be eligible for naturalization under Article 116 (2) sentence 1 of the Basic Law. This process, known as renaturalization, has special rules that apply:
- Individuals who voluntarily or involuntarily lost their German citizenship before February 26th, 1955, such as through the acquisition of foreign citizenship by application, release by application, or marriage to a non-citizen.
- Individuals who were denied the legal acquisition of German citizenship through marriage, legitimization or collective naturalization due to their ethnicity.
- People who were not granted citizenship through naturalization application or were generally excluded from naturalization despite being eligible.
- Individuals who lost their habitual residence in Germany before January 30th, 1933 (and in the case of children, also after this date).
- Descendants of the above-mentioned individuals.
For more information, please visit the website of the Federal Office of Administration. As we can see, a recent Federal Constitutional Court decision has expanded the number of people who can claim citizenship under this Article. The aforesaid edition of the Article 116 (2) allows people, including their descendants, who were persecuted between January 30, 1933 and May 8, 1945, due to political, racial, or religious reasons to apply for German citizenship. It is important to note that there are different criteria for individuals who escaped Germany prior to the liberation by the Allies.
Even if the eligible individual has passed away, their descendants may still be eligible for German citizenship through “citizenship by blood.” The law also allows people who were born and lived in Germany during the 1930s, but had their citizenship revoked by force, to apply. It is worth mentioning that the process of obtaining German citizenship will not require you to renounce your current citizenship.
If you are unsure of your eligibility for German citizenship, please reach out to us. We will assist you in finding the necessary documents, and determining your eligibility together. Our experts will provide guidance and use our resources to gather all the required information to help you understand the rules and relevant regulations.
What changes were made to the Citizenship Law during 2020?
- In the past, eligibility for German citizenship for descendants was determined based on the German citizenship status of the father in a marriage that occurred before April 1st, 1953. However, now descendants can also apply for citizenship if their mother had German citizenship.
- All descendants born to a father with German citizenship in a marriage between 1914-1963 are eligible to apply for German citizenship.
- In January 1975, an amendment was made to promote gender equality, allowing all descendants born in a marriage to be eligible for citizenship if one of the parents holds German citizenship, regardless of whether it is the father or mother.
- Descendants born outside of marriage are only eligible for citizenship if their mother holds German citizenship. Eligibility for descendants whose father holds citizenship is only available if they were born after 1993.
How do the changes affect the naturalization process?
Obtaining German citizenship for those with ties to the victims of the Third Reich is generally not considered to be a complicated process. This is reflected in the fact that candidates in this category will not be required to take the standard tests, such as a language and culture test, that are typically required for German citizens without a background in Nazi Germany. These tests will be conducted orally at the German embassy and will be administered by a representative. They are considered to be “protocol only” and there is typically no need for extensive preparation. The amendment reflects this understanding of the historical injustices that were inflicted on many individuals. The German legislature recognizes the wrongs that were done and the leniencies that are being offered are part of a historical justice program to rectify these terrible injustices.
What kind of documents do I need?
To apply for German citizenship, certain documents must be provided to prove one’s identity and connection to the country. These may include an identity card, an old passport, an academic diploma, a certificate of exile, or any other document that demonstrates a civil connection to Germany. Additionally, it is necessary to confirm the family relationship between the applicant and the German citizen on whom the application is based.
How long does it take to get German citizenship?
The process for descendants of the Jews who lived in Nazi Germany to obtain German citizenship is significantly shorter than the standard procedure. On average, it takes one to two years to complete. Keep in mind that the waiting time for an interview with the German Embassy can be lengthy, but this is the main reason for the extended timeframe. It is important to note that the process does not require constant work over the course of two years.
How much does it cost?
According to the German legislature, there is no cost associated with the process of obtaining German citizenship or the naturalization certificate that is issued at the end of the process. Therefore, the costs are not considered to be high. However, it is important to note that in some cases, the costs may vary depending on the quality of the documents provided as well as the individual decisions made by the German committees responsible for reviewing and examining the documents. It is advisable to contact us to ensure that you are getting the most value for your money.
And if I’m not Israeli?
Generally, the new law edition does not specifically refer to citizens of a particular country. However, there is a significant population in Israel that qualifies for German citizenship under the law. Additionally, the law may also apply to those who emigrated from Germany to other countries after the rise of the Nazi regime, after World War II, and even later. As previously mentioned, the revocation of German citizenship was carried out across the board for German Jews and also applied to those who had previously emigrated from Germany.
For those whose citizenship was revoked due to the rise of the Nazi regime and the racial laws introduced in Germany, the new amendment is likely to apply to them and their descendants. However, it is unlikely to apply to those who renounced their citizenship or were denied it for other reasons. Each case will be considered on its own merit. Therefore, it is advisable to consult an attorney specializing in immigration law to Germany, who can provide you with an answer based on their professional experience and knowledge of the law and evaluate your eligibility or that of your relatives on a case-by-case basis.
Can you apply after living in Germany a certain time?
If your ancestors were not Nazi victims in the 1930s, you can still apply for German citizenship by residing in Germany with a valid residence permit. To be eligible, you must have lived in Germany for at least 8 years, and your stay must have been legal. It is important to note that if you do not have a valid permit, you will not be able to apply for citizenship.
Additionally, you will need to prove that you are able to support yourself financially and will not be dependent on government assistance. When you apply, you will be required to take a German language test and a test on German history and culture. However, descendants of Nazi victims are not required to go through this process and are not required to reside in Germany. If you are unsure of your eligibility, you can contact us and we will guide you through the process of obtaining citizenship and help you prepare for the language and culture tests if needed.
What about children?
Obtaining a German passport for children can be a relatively straightforward process if the parent is already a naturalized citizen. If one parent already has German citizenship, the child does not have to go through the entire process of obtaining citizenship again. The parent must schedule an appointment at the German embassy for consular registration, bringing along the child’s birth certificate and their own German citizenship or passport. The child will then be registered in the German civil registry and will automatically become a naturalized citizen.
It’s important to note that in case the child was born abroad, the registration process should be done by the German consulate. The child’s birth certificate, the parent’s German passport or ID card and the marriage certificate, in case they are married, should be provided.
Additionally, if the child was born before the parent obtained the German citizenship, the child might be able to apply retroactively. This means that the child would be considered a German citizen from the date of birth. In this case, the parent’s naturalization certificate is needed.
What are the advantages of German citizenship?
Germany, as the country with the strongest economy in Europe and a member of the European Union, offers its citizens a number of advantages. One such advantage is the ability to travel without a visa to other EU countries, this is particularly relevant as Israelis may soon require a visa to enter Europe. This privilege allows German citizens to move freely throughout the EU, which is especially beneficial for those who want to live, work, or study in other European countries.
Additionally, German citizens are not required to apply for a visa to enter countries such as the United States and Australia and are eligible for a “Working Holiday Visa” which allows them to work in countries such as Canada, Japan, Singapore, Australia, New Zealand and more. This opens up opportunities for German citizens to gain international work experience, travel and explore new cultures.
Living in Germany also offers many benefits such as access to comfortable social benefits, basic security, higher standard of living, advanced medical benefits, student pension and more. German citizens can take advantage of the EU’s free movement of persons and worker, which means they can live and work in any EU country without needing any additional permit or visa. This offers the potential to live, work, and study in any EU member state, giving German citizens the ability to experience different cultures, languages, and ways of life. Furthermore, Germans are also able to enjoy the benefits of the EU’s single market, which allows for the free movement of goods, services, and capital throughout the EU.
Who are we? Immigration and Citizenship law firm
Obtaining a German passport for descendants of Holocaust survivors and/or victims of the Nazi regime can be done through a reputable law firm with years of experience in the field of immigration. Our firm has developed a specialized method for identifying eligible individuals and efficiently obtaining a German passport without delay or unnecessary bureaucracy.
Our law office, specializing in immigration and acquiring additional passports, will be happy to assist in obtaining necessary documents in Europe, translating documents issued in Israel into German, and guiding you through the process until you receive your German citizenship certificate. For more information, please contact us and we will be happy to assist you in the process of obtaining German citizenship for those persecuted by the Nazi regime. We have two offices located in Jerusalem and Tel Aviv, however, our team is available to help clients from all around the country and even those living abroad.