April 14, 2010 2:48 am at 2:48 am #591546
European citizenship laws are generally based on “jus sanguinis” (right of blood) as opposed to the American model of “jus soli” (right of soil). What this means is that children (and grandchildren, etc.) of European citizens are automatically citizens of that country, even if they were not born there or had never even been there for that matter. In the United States, being born anywhere on American soil gives that child American citizenship automatically (even if both parents are tourists, visitors, or even illegal aliens in the U.S.), which is not the case in Europe.
As a practical matter what this means is that children and grandchildren (great-grandchildren, etc.) of holocaust survivors (or other former residents of a European country) are legally citizens of their parents/grandparents original country of citizenship. Of course these countries don’t even know most of these people exist (since their births were never registered at their embassies) but if such persons so chooses they can obtain a Passport from the countries embassy or consulate in the U.S. (or wherever they live) as a citizen of that country. Doing so is not “naturalizing” as a citizen of that country, but rather recognizing that one is a citizen by birth of that country.
Whereas this wasn’t much use for American citizens until recently, now that most of the European countries are in (or soon will be in) the European Union (EU) — which gives citizens of those countries the unlimited right to travel, or even live and work, in that or any other EU country — it may be useful for some folks.
To document your status as a citizen of one of these European countries you’ll need to get a “citizenship clarification” form from their embassy (in Washington) or consulate (New York, Los Angeles, and sometimes Chicago) in person or by mail. You fill that out and attach your parent’s/grandparent’s birth certificate (issued when he lived in Europe — if you don’t have it, the embassy/consulate can request a duplicate), along with your own birth and marriage certificates. Afterwards (assuming all goes smoothly) you get a “citizenship certificate” from them that you can use to obtain a Passport from that country via their embassy/consulate.
Each country has certain quirks. For Hungary your parent/grandparent had to leave Hungary after 1929 to qualify, Poland after 1918, etc. Also, generally speaking until the 1950’s (the specific year depends on which country it is) the citizenship only transferred to a child through his father (and not his mother), women automatically became a citizen of her new husband’s country of citizenship, and women lost their citizenship if they married a non-citizen. The embassy or consulate (and often their website) can provide more detailed information if you call them.April 14, 2010 3:57 am at 3:57 am #682945
if i want to get a german passport and i dont have his birth certificate bec he went threw the war then how can i prove he was a german citizen?April 14, 2010 4:00 am at 4:00 am #682946
Get a copy of his German birth certificate through the German embassy or consulate (or through the municipal vital records office of the city in Germany he was born in.)April 14, 2010 4:18 am at 4:18 am #682947
then how do i prove hes my grandfather and get a passport?April 14, 2010 4:55 am at 4:55 am #682948
Get your parent’s birth certificate, which will list your grandfather as your parent’s father, and a copy of your birth certificate which will list you as your parent’s child. So they will see the relationship from your grandfather through you.April 14, 2010 3:16 pm at 3:16 pm #682949
Although it is true that in general, European citizenship is not based on jus soli, most European countries grant citizenship to the children of *stateless* persons at birth. This would affect, for example, German and French Jews who had had their citizenship revoked by the Nazis and/or their collaborators.April 14, 2010 8:07 pm at 8:07 pm #682950
On the same token, American citizenship whilst not based on jus sanguinis, does provide citizenship, in limited circumstances, for children born to an American parent abroad. The limitation is based on the number of years the parent lived in the United States prior to giving birth. The European model provides citizenship for second, third, fourth generation descendent’s without any of them ever having set foot in the country.
BTW, I’m not sure the example of the German and French Jews who lost their citizenship is good one, since after the war those laws were revoked retroactively and any citizen stripped of citizenship by the Nazi regime had their citizenship restored, so they weren’t stateless. Statelessness is a rare phenomenon, especially nowadays.
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