Separating families

 
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Elaine (born 1949)

My mother was born in Schluchtern in 1927 of two German born parents. She left Germany to USA in November 1938 on the eve of Kristallnacht along with her older sister and parents. My grandmother managed to obtain immigration visas only after a previous difficult trip to the USA in order to obtain affidavits from a distant relative. They left behind a house, a family business as well as most personal effects. In America my mother and her entire family had a very difficult time adjusting to their new country.

While Lore ultimately found her place and later married my father, an American born citizen, her father never truly adjusted. He longed for his former home, community and life in Schluchtern for the balance of his life. He was a veteran of the German Army in World War I and had been president of the synagogue as well as a highly regarded member of the Jewish community. In 1956 he traveled to Schluchtern along with his younger brother (who also escaped to England but left behind two daughters who perished in the Shoah) in order to restore the headstones of their parents and another brother who was killed in the German Army in World War I. These three headstones are among only a handful of other restored headstones in the largely decimated cemetery.

In 2005 I traveled to Schluchtern with my younger brother (born after 1953) and husband to Germany. We contacted the local cultural director who graciously arranged a personal tour of the Rathouse, former synagogue (now a cultural center), and the partially restored Jewish cemetery.  It  was a very moving experience to see the memorial plaques containing the names of our great grandparents and other family members some of whom perished in the Shoah. My brother became tearful upon seeing the name of his great grandfather for whom he is named. 

It is ironic that while my brother and I share the same heritage and traveled together to the ancestral home of our maternal family, we and our children are treated differently by the German government just because the years of our birth.

 

Norman (born 1944)

My mother was born in Nurnberg in 1909 of two German born parents. She left Germany to Palestine in 1931 in order to marry my father.  They married shortly upon arrival since they were not allowed to marry in Germany due to my father not being a German. My mother's parents left Germany in 1935 for Palestine following her father being arrested on a bogus anitisemitic accusation. He was accused of being a communist by a tenant who wished to buy their home. The arrest was instigated by an article in Der Sturmer, the Nazi Nurnberger newspaper edited Julius Streicher. Following pleas from his brothers (some of whom were WWI German Army veterans) he was released from jail and sold the house to the tenant under duress. They left behind their business, personal effects and ancestral home in Burgpreppach as well as numerous family members some of whom perished in the Shoah.

My mother's older sister left Germany for Palestine in 1932 and married a Jewish German man in Palestine, they had a son born before 1953 (who is eligible for German citizenship since he has a German father). Her younger brother left Germany for Palestine sometime between 1933-1935 (post Hitler) and many of his family members (children, grandchildren and great grandchildren) have all successfully reclaimed their German citizenship heritage.

For a number of years we have been disappointed in our inability to have our German citizenship heritage reinstated. We have visited Germany a number of times and specifically visited the birthplaces of our family members. Sometime in 2011 we completed Applications For Naturalization according to Article 116(2) Basic Law and visited the German Consulate in New York City. After handing the forms to the receiving clerk, we were summoned into a small conference room and were informed that we were not eligible. They did not accept our applications and returned the forms to us. We were told that since we were born of German mothers before 1953 we were not eligible.