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Germany’s New Citizenship Law for Descendants of Nazi Victims – Explained!

Learn more about the steps that have been taken to reconcile the Nazi’s actions & reinstate citizenship to former German citizens and their descendants.

It is without a doubt that Germany’s Nazi regime changed history. Even in the modern-day, there are still ongoing effects from actions originally caused by Nazi Germany. One of the iniquities that happened during Germany’s dark time is the laws that caused the deprivation of citizenship to many Germans. These laws have caused long-lasting problems as many people still have not regained their rightful German citizenship. 

It has taken many years to reconcile the Nazi’s actions to reinstate citizenship to former German citizens and their descendants. However, Germany’s recent citizenship law has made it possible to give this specific group the option of applying for Naturalization. In this article, we will explain everything you need to know about Germany’s new law and what this means for you!

About the German Citizenship Deprivation

There were two laws put into effect during the Nazi regime that stripped certain Germans of their citizenship. The first law that was implemented on July 14, 1933, was the “Law on the Revocation of Naturalizations and Deprivations of the German Citizenship”. The law deprived citizenship of any German if their name was published in the Reich Law Gazette (“Reichsgesetzblatt”). An individual’s name would be published in the Gazette due to any political, racist, or religious reason that the Nazi regime would see fit.

This second citizenship revoking law was the “Eleventh Decree to the Law on the Citizenship of the Reich”, which was put into effect on November 25, 1941. This law was responsible for stripping citizenship rights from the majority of former German citizens. It had such a large effect on the deprivation of citizenship because the law revoked citizenship for German Jewish people living outside of Germany. At the time, the law was implemented when countless German Jewish families moved out of Germany because of the Nazi reign. Therefore, many Jewish people lost their German citizenship.

How to Reinstate Your Citizenship  

Fortunately, the Federal Constitution has recently made it possible for more people to claim citizenship under Article 116 II sentence 1 of the Basic Law.

Article 116 II of the Basic Law states:

“Former German citizens who between January 30, 1933, and May 8, 1945, were deprived of their citizenship on political, racial, or religious grounds, and their descendants, shall on the application have their citizenship restored. They shall be deemed never to have been deprived of their citizenship if they have established their domicile in Germany after May 8, 1945, and have not expressed a contrary intention.’


Overall, the article enables whoever lost their German citizenship under the previously stated politically motivated laws to be entitled to naturalization. As well, the article gives descendants of these former Germans the right to be reinstated with citizenship. The article makes the citizenship application process easier for those who can prove to be victims of the Nazi regime in regards to citizenship entitlement. 

Who Counts as a Descendant?

Article 116 II is specific about who qualifies as a descendant. Under the article, the meaning of a descendant of a deprived German citizen is a person who would hypothetically today be a citizen under the operations of laws in force. Therefore, if the claimant would have acquired citizenship by birth, they are entitled to naturalization.

How Can I Get Started?

EuroPassport makes the process of acquiring your German citizenship by descent simpler than ever before. If you’re interested in applying for European citizenship by ancestry, either in Germany, the UK or in any other country in the EU–take our quick pre-screening assessment today and find out if you may be eligible.

Have more questions about the process and whether you may be eligible? Check out our FAQs or contact us today to learn more.