German passport decision for descendants of survivors a ‘gesture of decency’
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German passport decision for descendants of survivors a ‘gesture of decency’

Lawmakers have already set to work drafting legislation that would ease the route to a passport for children and grandchildren of Jews who had to flee the Nazis.

Chanukah celebrations in Karlsruhe, south-west Germany
Chanukah celebrations in Karlsruhe, south-west Germany

Germany has said it will make it easier for descendants of Holocaust survivors and refugees to obtain citizenship in what Jewish leaders described as a “gesture of decency”.

Lawmakers have already set to work drafting legislation that would ease the route to a passport for children and grandchildren of Jews who had to flee the Nazis.

While the injustice of the Shoah “cannot be undone”, said Josef Schuster of the German Central Council of Jews, it was nevertheless “a gesture of decency” on the German government’s part.

While there has long been a policy of returning citizenship to those hurt by the Nazi regime, not all survivors and their families have been able to gain the German citizenship forfeited by their forebears.

The Nazis stripped all German Jews outside the country of their citizenship in 1941, along with all their rights. It rendered those fleeing stateless.

Interior Minister Horst Seehofer said that while the law would “not put things right”, it was about “apologising in profound shame”. He added that if descendants want to become Germans despite everything, it would be “a huge fortune for our country”.

Austria had previously only allowed citizenship claims from direct victims of Nazi Germany, but in 2019 it changed its laws to allow their children and grandchildren to also become Austrian.

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