Many British Jews may find themselves on an exodus back to a place that once caused their ancestors an enormous amount of suffering.
Now that Brexit seems to be imminent, Jewish Brits face the possibility of returning to Germany to prevent losing their European Union Citizenship thanks to an old law that allows descendants of Germany to reinstate their German citizenship.
A Rueters’ article mentions Rabbi Julia Neuberger, a member of the House of Lords in London, who has come to accept the idea of possibly going back to Germany if Brexit becomes reality. However, there are some 260,000 Jews in Britain who are absolutely opposed to the idea.
According to the New York Times
[There is a ] German law that has been on the books since 1949…it allows anyone whom the Nazis stripped of their German citizenship “on political, racial or religious grounds” from Jan. 30, 1933, to May 8, 1945, and their descendants, to have their citizenship restored. (For those born before April 1, 1953, German citizenship can be derived through the father only.) Most of those who lost their citizenship during that period were Jews, though they also included other minorities and political opponents.
For the older generation, the idea of returning back to Germany would hash up too many painful memories about what Jews had to escape, but as Rueters reports, for the younger generation this idea would be much easier to ensure that they would stay European Union citizens.
Author and son of Austrian refugees, Anthony Grenville was quoted as saying “I’m not sure people would have done this at any point under regular circumstances; It took Brexit to push British Jews to consider this option.”
Another Jewish-Brit has also faces this unlikely event as reported by The New York Times. Phillip Levine, 35, along with some of his relatives might join the list of at least 400 British-Jewish Citizens who have recently applied for German Citizenship under the provision Article 116. Knud Knoelle, an embassy official said that at least 100 are official requests for German Citizenship.
The New York Times reported that many individuals who are planning to invoke this provision do not intend to abandon their British citizenship, but to simply have dual citizenship so that they can continue to have the freedom to live, move and travel between EU states.
The Telegraph reported on Thomas Harding, a Jewish Writer.
“I heard about Brexit around 6am and by 9am I had emailed the German embassy in London asking how I could go about requesting citizenship,” he said. “Britain took in my family at a time of trauma, and I’m grateful for that. But taking Germany citizenship is not about saying ‘goodbye’ to Britain, but ‘hello’ to Europe.”