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

Dora in 1980 with me and my cousin..jpg

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. My grandmother was born in Berlin in 1916 and was sent a letter ordering her to leave in 1938. She came to the UK in January 1939 on a domestic service visa. She lost everyone in her family, including a baby daughter who was supposed to follow her, but she couldn't get her out in time.

I'm an author ( and I've been working for about seven years on a book and PhD based on my grandmother's life in Berlin and her exile. The PhD is complete, but the book is still being edited. I spent a lot of time in archives over in Germany and in 2013 my son went to kindergarten in Berlin while I was doing my research. My own little family fell in love with Berlin, and we were warmly welcomed. It was then that we first considered applying for citizenship, so it was an idea that came about even before Brexit! 

My mother Betsy Thom is a Professor of Sociology. The German magazine 'Stern' wrote an article about us applying for citizenship a couple of years ago. We're not a religious family any more because there was no Jewish community where my grandmother ended up. She lived the rest of her life in a little town in NE Scotland. However, we love going to Jewish cultural events, and since living in Edinburgh we have been to the synagogue to learn about our heritage.

There is one further complication for us in hoping to get citizenship. My grandmother, born in Berlin and German at birth, may later have been considered Stateless after her mother married her father, who was from Bukovina. I'm not sure if this would still be relevant today. This is possibly why she was exiled, if officially she was considered non-German. I hope very deeply that any amendments in the law will still encompass me, my children, and my mother. I think it's right that they should.