About 400 British Jews whose family members fled the Nazis 70 years ago have applied for German citizenship in the wake of the Brexit vote, the German foreign ministry has confirmed.
Berlin bureaucrats, who usually receive only 25 applications a year, have been swamped by the sudden twentyfold increase and say that another 100 inquiries will “very probably” lead to applications.
Under Article 116 Paragraph 2 of Germany’s Basic Law, descendants of those persecuted by the Nazis are eligible for German citizenship.
Among the applicants revealed by The Guardian is Michael Newman, head of the Association of Jewish Refugees (AJR), who said his organisation was being asked to help British Jews do likewise.
“It is somewhat ironic that we were founded partly to help people become naturalised British after the war and, 70 years on, we find ourselves in the position of assisting people who want to acquire German and Austrian citizenship because of the recent developments in Britain,” he said.
World Jewish Relief, whose precursor was established to help bring German and Austrian Jews to the UK, now keeps an online archive of documents, many of which would help with applications.
A spokesman said they had received 239 applications to view the archives in the four months since the Brexit vote, and that traffic to the website was “three times higher” post-Brexit than prior.
WJR head of external affairs Richard Verber said: “We don’t know how many are researching their family history and how many are applying for another passport, but it is certainly interesting that the organisation responsible for saving the lives of so many people fleeing Germany and Austria might now be facilitating their families’ repatriation to those very countries.