Descendants of British Refugees From Nazism Eyeing German Passports After Brexit

The current uncertainty in the U.K. following the vote to leave the U.K. has led some local Jews to consider taking advantage of the citizenship offered under German law.

A British flag that was washed away by heavy rains the day before lies on the street in London, June 24, 2016 after Britain voted to leave the European Union.
Reinhard Krause / Reuters

The result of the Brexit referendum in the United Kingdom has motivated descendants of German Jews who fled the Nazis to the United Kingdom before and during World War II to seek German nationality, according to The Independent.

Under the principle of "restored citizenship,” German law stipulates that “former German citizens who between January 30, 1933 and May 8, 1945 were deprived of their citizenship on political, racial, or religious grounds, and their descendants, shall, on application, have their citizenship restored."

The vote to leave the European Union and the subsequent political uncertainty have led to a surge in the numbers of Britons seeking to become nationals of states in the EU. Most are seeking Irish passports, but other countries are also receiving an unprecedented amount of inquiries.

The German consulate in London has received rising numbers of requests for information on citizenship from the descendants of Jewish refugees currently living in Britain in recent days.

The U.K.’s Jewish community has assimilated into British society, but some now feel deep trepidation about the future. Jews voted overwhelmingly, by two to one, to reject Brexit, according to polls.

A survey carried out in the aftermath of the vote , on behalf of The Jewish Chronicle newspaper, showed that 59 per cent of those questioned were unhappy with the referendum result, compared to 28.3 per cent who were satisfied.

Successive German governments have traditionally welcomed the return of Jewish and other refugees - and their descendants - who fled the Nazis. 

Britons from such background now seeking citizenship are not expected to face too many obstacles. They will also be able to have dual nationality, something denied to those from outside the European Union under German law.