Regaining German citizenship for former Germans deprived of their citizenship

Former German citizens who between January 30, 1933, and May 8, 1945, were deprived of their citizenship on political, racial, or religious grounds are eligible to have their citizenship restored.  The descendents of these former German citizens are in most cases also entitled to German citizenship. 

Between January 30, 1933, and May 8, 1945, there were essentially two laws that deprived Germans of their citizenship.  Under the “Law on the Revocation of Naturalizations and the Deprivation of the German Citizenship” of July 14, 1933, some Germans lost their citizenship after their names were listed and published in the Reich Law Gazette (“Reichsgesetzblatt”). 

The vast majority of former German citizens, however, lost their citizenship when the “Eleventh Decree to the Law on the Citizenship of the Reich” came into effect on November 25, 1941.  This law stated that Jews living outside Germany could not be German citizens, and mainly affected Jews who had left Germany in the years before or shortly after the beginning of the Second World War.

What does this mean for you?

If you lost your German citizenship because of either one of these two regulations, you are entitled to renaturalization according to German law.  This also applies in most cases to your descendents.

If, while living outside Germany, you acquired a foreign citizenship before your name was published in the Reich Law Gazette or before November 25, 1941, you lost your German citizenship as any other German citizen would have lost it.  However, if you emigrated from Nazi Germany for political reasons and applied for naturalization in your new home country as a result of this situation, you may be able to reobtain your German citizenship.  In cases like these, your descendents would not be eligible to gain German citizenship. 

How to proceed:

Please fill out an application form, sign it, and return it to the competent German Mission.  Please include copies of all relevant documents (e.g. old German passports of the German emigrant, birth certificates of the emigrant, marriage certificates, copies of the naturalization papers of other states where the German emigrant became a citizen after leaving Germany).  If you are a descendent of a former German citizen, please submit all certificates of birth and marriage needed to prove your descent from the former citizen. All documents written in a language other than German should be accompanied by an official translation. Most cititzenship authorities in Germany will accept documents in English. Documents in non-Latin scripts (eg. Hebrew, Russian), however, will require translation.

The consular officer will pre-check your application and contact you to set up an appointment. Please bring all original documents to this appointment as the consular officer will notarize the documents and then forward your application to the competent authority in Germany, the Bundesverwaltungsamt (German Federal Office of Administration). If you cannot come in person due to illness, you are required to submit all documents as notarized copies with your application. To obtain notarized copies, please contact your local notary public. 

The application process is free of charge and may take up to a year to process, depending on the ability of the German Federal Office of Administration to find the necessary documents in archives in Germany.  The more information you provide, the easier it will be to track down the required information.  If you have family members who have already gone through the application process, please provide information on their applications or send in a copy of their German certificates of naturalization (“Einbürgerungsurkunde”). 

Please mention any name changes due to naturalization.  Also, please provide information on any transcriptions of German names into foreign languages (e.g. Müller to Mueller/Muller/Miller or Grünspan to Greenspan), any abbreviations of first names (e.g. Alfred to Fred or Johann to John), or even complete changes of first and last names.  

Regaining German citizenship for former Germans deprived of their citizenship

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