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German Law/Wiedereinbürgerung


My mother was born in Berlin to Jewish parents. She found herself in war-torn France in June 1940, was able to flee from occupied Paris to unoccupied Vichy France. In need of proper documents in order not to be handed over by the Vichy French regime to the Nazis (and therewith certain persecution), she married my father, a Cypriot, in July 1940, thereby securing her survival.

I am British by birth and was born in 1950. I understand that under Art. 116(2) GG I may be able to apply for German nationality. However, it would seem that as my mother married a foreigner, under 1913 laws she automatically lost her German citizenship, which would prevent a successful application for Wiedereinbürgerung.

This did not apply to German men marrying foreign women, so I find this interpretation of the law highly discriminatory in our day and age. What is your interpretation and how, in your considered view, might I be able to obtain German citizenship.

Dear Joanna,

besides your mother's marriage, we have another problem: Until 1953, you could only receive German citizenship from your father, bot from your mother. So even if you mother would have remained German, she wouldn't have passed on German citizenship to you when you were born in 1950.

Of course all of this was highly discriminatory, but the point of Art. 116 II GG is only to rectify the persecution by the Nazis, not gender discrimination (which was not a specific Nazi policy, but a problem of the time, not only in Germany). The issue is not one of the current interpretation of the law. The law before 1953 was clearly and unambiguously discriminatory, there is nothing to interpret. That's why it was changed.

But not in every case when a law is changed is there an obligation to apply this change retroactively. Particularly in citizenship law, applying changes retroactively would lead to a whole range of issues because citizenship is relevant for applicable family and inheritance law, for voting rights, for military conscription, for tax law and so on.

I am sorry that I don't have better news.

If you have close ties to Germany and speak German fluently, you do however have the option of getting naturalized without living in Germany:

Andreas Moser

German Law

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Andreas Moser


Extensive experience in international family law, especially international child abductions and child custody cases. All other areas of German law as well: constitutional law, criminal law, business and contract law, immigration law, inheritance law, and so on.


Lawyer in Germany from 2002 to 2009. Lawyer for US Army JAG Corps before. Bar-certified specialisation in family law and in administrative law. Articles and lectures about international and domestic family law.


2000 Law Degree from University of Regensburg, Germany 2002 admitted to the bar (until 2009) 2013 MA Philosophy at the Open University, UK

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