The Oasis Reporters
October 4, 2017
What Jews whose parents fled the holocaust in Nazi Germany would have thought unthinkable seventy-two years ago has come upon it’s present generation.
The mass exodus of Jews from Germany reached a crescendo in 1945 and many had said, ‘never again’ as they made their way to Britain, the United States, Israel etc, while escaping from the trauma of the Nazi gas chambers that claimed the lives of 6 million Jews.
A few months ago the Brexit referendum changed Britain forever, but it is a change not all Brits have embraced. There has been a High Court challenge to the process of leaving the European Union.
The Irish embassy in London has had a run on dual nationality passports. And perhaps most surprisingly, over 550 British Jews have applied for German citizenship.
A year ago this would have been unthinkable. Many British Jews lost family members in The Holocaust and were raised with a deep resentment of Germany.
But the threat of losing the right to automatically live, work and study in EU countries is leading British Jews of German heritage to apply for second passports.
Julia Neuberger’s mother Liesel Rosenthal fled Nazi Germany in 1937. Most of her mother’s family perished in The Holocaust.
Like many in the UK, her identity is complicated. She is a proud Londoner, a proud Brit, and a proud European.
Baroness Neuberger is also a Rabbi and a member of the most British of institutions, the House of Lords, but that is not stopping her from applying for German citizenship.
“I’m seeking German citizenship for a number of reasons,” she said.”One is I’m really upset about Brexit and I want to retain that part of my identity, which is proudly European.”
“But secondly and importantly, Germany has for me made an attempt to do what it can to recognise the terrible things it was responsible for from 1933 to 1945.”
Under German law, descendants of people persecuted by the Nazis are eligible for citizenship.
The chief executive of the Association of Jewish Refugees, an organisation that has fielded dozens of inquiries from British Jews about how to apply for a German passport, Michael Newman says that in the Post-war Era, “one of the things we did was to help people acquire British nationality, so coming full circle today there is a huge irony in passing on guidance for people to become perhaps German citizens again,” he said.
Mr Newman is applying for German citizenship himself.
“I don’t want to lose any of the rights of access to the single market, to travel visa-free to other EU countries.
I’m wondering how it will be for my children in the future whether they will have the right to work and study in those countries,” he said.
It is a massive psychological leap for British Jews, particularly those who are second or third generation descendants of those who fled Nazi Germany.
Many worry what their ancestors would have thought. It is something Baroness Neuberger has also pondered.
“I don’t know what my mother would have thought, my mother felt very badly about Germany. She only went back to Germany once,” she said. “My various friends who knew her, friends who were younger, who are in their 90s now, they think she would’ve been relaxed about it but I don’t know.”
The Federal Statistics Office (FSO) on Tuesday said that the number of Britons seeking German citizenship increased by 361 per cent in 2016.
The office said that many were concerned that the vote will make it more difficult for them to live and work in the European Union in future.
“In total, 2,865 Britons took German citizenship in 2016.
“The rise is likely to be far greater this year as it takes several months to obtain a German passport.
“The link to Brexit seems clear,” the office said.
Some Britons may be concerned that Britain will make a hard Brexit, leaving it outside the single market and with limited freedom of movement in the bloc.
Britain is due to leave the European Union in 2019.
Although the last election disaster for Theresa May, who remains Prime Minister but without an overall majority in parliament, has raised questions over what kind of a Brexit deal will be agreed.
The Office said a total of 110,400 foreigners took up German citizenship last year, a 2.9 per cent increase from the previous year, with the biggest rate of rise among Britons.
The largest group of people taking up German citizenship came from Turkey although the total of 16,290 was down 17.3 per cent from 2016.
Some 6,632 Poles became Germans in 2016, an increase of 11.3 per cent.
This issue becomes more contentious as Catalans have voted to pull out of Spain and Kurds have decided to push home their demand for a separate home land.
As they agree today to separate, would there be buyer’s remorse tomorrow?
Igbo land in south east Nigeria and Cameroonians in it’s English speaking part are all watching because they too want to break away from their various countries.
Credit : ABC News