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QUESTION: Hi Janina,

Long story short: I'm interested in German citizenship, but I don't know how to go about it (I'm an American citizen).

My grandfather was a Holocaust survivor, imprisoned in a Nazi labor camp from 1942-45. I've read that descendants of Holocaust survivors are granted German dual citizenship. Do you know how I can start this process?

How can I prove his status as a prisoner of war? He's long since deceased. Many years ago my father tried contacting the German Red Cross, but I'm unsure whether he found any proof....and now he's passed away too. I know he was a Holocaust survivor because he had the tattoo on his arm, and he told my dad lots of stories about his time as an internee.

I've tried finding German lawyers to ask this question, but my German is pretty rusty and I'm not sure where to find a German immigration lawyer anyway.

Please help if you can, thank you.

Rob

ANSWER: Hello Rob,

thank you for your question. I hope I can help you with your plan to get the German citizenship.

I did some research and found a word document that has some information on the legal proceedings necessary. Apparently you can contact the German embassy in the US and they should be able to give you further information. You need to be able to proof that your grandfather lost his German citizenship due to the laws of the Nazi regime. In order to get this proof you need to contact the "Bundesverwaltungsamt" (Federal Administration Office) in Cologne. They have an index of all the people who lost citizenship due to the Nazis.

Here's their English website:
http://www.bva.bund.de/EN/Home/home_node.html

Here's this website's information about Naturalization:
http://www.bva.bund.de/EN/Themen/Citizenship_staatsangehoerigkeit/naturalization

The German version of this information also says that you should contact the German embassy for more information.

Here's the website where I found the link to the word document I mentioned above. There's an English and a German version. I think it should be quite helpful for you:
http://www.naturalization.de/NS-expatriations/ns-expatriations.html

Pages 4 and 5 of the English word file describe the procedural aspects of the naturalization as a German citizen.

Hope this helps.

Kind regards
Janina

---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------

QUESTION: Hi Janina,

I looked at this page: (Federal Administration Office), but I can't find the index you mentioned. Do I have to call or email them for that info?

I looked at the other site, but it seems pretty low-rent and not very helpful. I contacted the sitemaster, but I think I need to get help from the German gov't.

How should I go about contacting the German Embassy? I think my grandfather might have changed his name after emigrating to the US, not wanting people to know he was German. But I'm not sure about this--he might have been Russian or even Polish or Czech. Like I said, he died long ago and so did my grandmother and father, so I have nothing to go on. I don't want to waste people's time at the Embassy.

More advice about how to proceed, please? Thanks.

Rob

Answer
Hello Rob,

thank you for the follow-up. I am sorry that my first answer wasn't more helpful to you.

I am aware that one of the websites I linked to in my reply doesn't look like much. But I think that the file "German Citizenship and Jewish Emigrees from Germany” (the second link) is very helpful, well written and has much information about how to proceed.

You would need to contact the Federal Administration Office about the index. However, I think they would need your grandfather's original name to check for him on the index.

I wouldn't worry about wasting people's time at the Embassy. It's their job to help you with these questions. You mentioned yourself that you need help from the German government, and the embassy is the representation of Germany.

Here's some useful links for you:

German embassy information about citizenship:
http://www.germany.info/Vertretung/usa/en/05__Legal/02__Directory__Services/02__

German embassy information about Restored Citizenship:
http://www.germany.info/Vertretung/usa/en/05__Legal/02__Directory__Services/02__

Contact info of the German Embassy:
http://www.germany.info/Vertretung/usa/en/02__GIC/GIC/01/__Data.html

Hope this helps.

Kind regards
Janina

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Janina

Expertise

I live in Germany, so I am really at the source of politics and culture. You can ask me about entertainment, pop culture, politics of the day, general culture. I am also interested in German history, especially the time after 1945, i.e. the evolution of modern Germany, the division in Western and Eastern Germany, the fall of the Berlin wall. If you're wondering why some things are the way they are in Germany, don't hesitate to ask me, and I will try to give you a helpful answer.

Experience

I was born and spent most of my life in Germany. Right now I am living in Northwestern Germany. I am generally interested in politics and culture. Thus, I feel I should be able to help people from other countries understand Germany and German culture a little better.

Education/Credentials
I studied translation from English and French into German. I've been working as a freelance translator for 5 years now. So, I am able to understand and use the English language.

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