A few of our members’ stories


(Please note that names have been removed from these stories to protect individual anonymity)


preserving our family history

One of the most common reasons for applications being rejected is due to the applicant, or the applicant’s mother, being born to a German mother and non-German father before 1 April 1953. Until 1 April 1953, German citizenship could only be passed on through the paternal line.

This story highlights the injustice.


betrayed by berlin, again

From 1933, legislation began depriving German Jews of their citizenship on an individual basis. This was done through listing their names in the Reich Law Gazette ('Reichsgesetzblatt'); upon publication of the Reichsgesetzblatt in which their name was listed, the individual lost their German citizenship.

German Jews who fled after 1933 and acquired the citizenship of another country before their names were printed are considered to have ‘voluntarily’ renounced their citizenship.

In this story, the member describes being rejected under Article 116 as a betrayal.



This story highlights the complex injustices that arise from Article 116. It tells the story of a German Jewish woman and her family who fled Germany and landed in South America in 1937. After being stateless for over a decade she was finally given her German citizenship back in 1953, only to find out that as a woman, she was not eligible to pass on her German citizenship. Her brother, on the other hand, despite being born outside Germany, can pass on his citizenship. Years later after the law changed she adopted two non-German children who, ironically, were eligible, and are now German citizens. Even today, her natural-born children are not entitled to German citizenship.


Excluded by Antiquated Laws

Although I’ve lived and worked in Germany as an adult for 14 years, and have represented Germany culturally, speak the language fluently and without an accent, I’m not entitled to reclaim the German citizenship of which my mother was deprived due to antiquated laws pertaining to gender and date of birth, which currently restrict the applicability of Article 116 (2).


Separating Families

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.

This is a summary of our backgrounds:

Dora in 1980 with me and my cousin..jpg

Professor Betsy Thom (1943) and Doctor Eleanor Thom (1979)

I am based in Edinburgh. I'm 40 and I applied along with my mother, born 1943, and a cousin the same age as me. I have two children, aged 5 and 8, who would further benefit if we were granted citizenship. We applied but were turned down.


Splitting up families and brothers - again 

Despite the family residence in Berlin since at least the 1830’s until 1939, we find that current legislation results in one brother gaining his German passport whilst the other will be rejected on the basis of date of birth regardless of identical applications. This surely cannot have been the intention of the legislation, which seems to be out of touch with modern values of sex discrimination, making amends and natural justice.