10 FAQ on Reclaiming German Citizenship

The FAQ on German Citizenship are the most popular post on my blog. But some aspects are so complicated that they deserve their own list of FAQ, like those on applying for naturalization without living in Germany and the following ones on reclaiming German citizenship that had previously been lost (the citizenship, not the FAQ). Some of these sections also extend to descendants of former Germans.

Before asking a new question, please read through the comments which may already answer your questions. And do you see the “Donate” button on the right-hand side of your screen? If you find these FAQ useful or if you ask a question, it would be very nice of you to make use of it.

  1. Why would someone lose German citizenship in the first place?

The main ways to lose German citizenship are applying for and receiving citizenship of another country without prior permission from Germany (§ 25 StAG), voluntarily serving in the armed forces of another country (§ 28 StAG) and renunciation (§ 26 StAG).

But it becomes endlessly more complex because different laws were in place at different times. Until 1949 or 1953, depending on the specific circumstances, German women who married a foreign man automatically lost German citizenship. Until 1913, German citizenship could be lost by living abroad for more than 10 years and not registering with a German consulate. And then, between 1933 and 1945, the Nazis stripped many people of German citizenship as an act of punishment or because of their anti-Semitic ideology.

2. I am a history buff. Tell me more about that Nazi policy.

Ok. In November 1941, the German Reich passed a law that deprived all Jewish Germans who were living abroad at the time (or moved abroad later) of their German citizenship.

In addition to that, since July 1933 there had been a law that allowed the individual revocation of German citizenship, which was mostly applied to opposition activists and intellectuals. If your ancestors were among the 39,006 victims of that policy, they were in the good company of people like Albert Einstein, Willy Brandt, Hannah Arendt, Thomas and Heinrich Mann, Bertolt Brecht and others.

3. I am a descendant of someone in one of these two groups of people. Does this mean I can now apply for a German passport?

Generally yes.

Art. 116 II of the German Constitution states that all people who were deprived of their German citizenship on “political, racial or religious grounds” between 1933 and 1945 can reclaim Germany citizenship. What is of more interest to you is that Art. 116 II GG extends to descendants.

4. Why did you say “generally yes”? That sounds like there are some caveats.

In law, there are always exceptions.

You will be treated as if your parent or grandparent had never been deprived of German citizenship, but that doesn’t guarantee that you will receive German citizenship and a passport. For example, until 1975 and if the parents were married, only fathers could pass on German citizenship. If you were born to a (former) German mother before 1975, the reinstatement according to Art. 116 II GG does not help you because even without the Nazi-era discrimination, you wouldn’t have been born a German. (Although there is another route for these cases, detailed in no. 8 of my FAQ on naturalization from abroad.)

5. But if I qualify, this also extends to my children?


6. What about the non-Nazi related cases, for example when I lost German citizenship because I applied for US/Jamaican/Australian citizenship without prior permission from Germany, but now I want to move back to Germany?

First of all, you don’t need German citizenship in order to move to Germany (§ 38 II AufenthG).

But § 13 StAG allows for the discretionary renaturalization of former German citizens (and their minor children). You are not entitled to it, though, and thus need to present a compelling case.

7. Can you help me with that?

Yes, I can.

The minimum requirements are that you speak German at B1 level, that you can financially support yourself and that you have close ties to Germany (family, professional, business, academic or otherwise). Even then, you’ll need to show that it would be in the national interest of Germany to renaturalize you.

8. Will I have to give up my existing citizenship?

Yes, with some exceptions.

Before you ask: I’ll have to write a separate list of FAQ on dual citizenship in Germany. I am just waiting for a few more donations to my blog before I do that.

9. I lost German citizenship when I was a child because my family moved to another country and my parents filed for British/Brazilian/US citizenship for me. I was never asked. This is unfair!

We cannot undo everything that your parents did on your behalf when you were a child. Or do you want to return all these bicycles and Commodore computers?

But it is worth looking into the exact circumstances. I’ve had cases where only one of the parents signed the petition for a new citizenship although the parents had joint custody. In this case, German law treats you as if you never lost German citizenship in the first place and you can simply apply for a new passport without having to go through renaturalization.

10. I am half-German …

No, you are not!


Posted in German Law, Germany, Law | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Thoughts of the Day 15

  1. If you are ever going to attend France’s National Day parade on 14 July, watch out for the pioneers of the Foreign Legionsoldiers-from-the-foreign-legion-d19f-diaporama
  2. More Orwellian news out of Russia.
  3. Romania: “Look, USA, that’s how you do an impeachment. Quick and easy.”
  4. I have great admiration for people who know how to format Microsoft Word documents.
  5. You may have missed “Bring your Child to Work” Day, but Queen Elizabeth II didn’t. landscape-1498052185-queen-princecharles-queenspeech
  6. And did the Queen wear a hat symbolizing the EU flag?
  7. Speaking of the Queen, it was nice of her to visit victims of the Grenfell Tower fire. But if you live in a palace with 775 rooms (and have a few more palaces on hand), the proper thing would be to offer shelter, not handshakes.
  8. The devastating forest fires in Portugal touched me even more because I had just been hiking there – and noticed the dangerous combination of pine trees and eucalyptus – and had been hosted via Couchsurfing by Joana and Tiago, who is a firefighter and working against these forest fires now. Good luck! portugalfire_2634093k
  9. Thank to Sonia Ninova for The Death of Expertise, a very timely book and one which hopefully adds more context and explanation to the phenomenon that I witness myself far too often: that experts are not believed or that every opinion counts the same, and sometimes even that expertise and learning are regarded as something negative. nichols_deathofexpertise
  10. When your employer gives you the number 007, shouldn’t you ask what happened to 001 through 006?
  11. 1963, when US Presidents where still interested in the physical fitness of the people – and the President’s brother was the first to accept the challenge of a 50-mile walk. Successfully so.bobbyontrail
  12. I prefer the SOE over SEO.
  13. Thanks to the anonymous donors of Patrick Leigh Fermor’s Three Letters from the Andes, Juan Gabriel Vásquez’ The InformersNick Thorpe’s The Danube: A Journey Upriver from the Black Sea to the Black Forest and Artemis Cooper’s Patrick Leigh Fermor: An Adventure.51q2tt9u9pl-_sx343_bo1204203200_
  14. I still don’t understand how airlines can offer flights within Europe for less than 10 euros. Often, it costs me more to get to the airport by train/bus than to fly across the whole continent.
  15. The US President bans a certain part of the population from serving in the US military based on their identity. Let that sink in.
  16. The young Osterinsel Kinderbuch
  17. and the still young are happy about my postcardsAntigua Oliwia
  18. Afghanistan has a Sesame Street, too:

Posted in Afghanistan, Books, France, James Bond, Military, Politics, Portugal, Romania, Russia, Technology, Travel, UK, US election 2016, USA | Tagged , , | 7 Comments

Still Life with a BMW


(Photographed in Tbilisi, Georgia.)

Posted in Georgia, Photography, Travel | Tagged , | 5 Comments

How dangerous is Abkhazia?

Those were the reactions when I announced my plan to travel to Abkhazia:

  • “Oh, isn’t that dangerous?” (seventeen times)
  • “Be careful, it’s very dangerous there!” (eight times)
  • “But what would you want to do there?” (five times)
  • “You have to be very careful! Under no circumstances should you speak to a girl. As soon as you just look at a girl, four of her brothers with guns will be there to protect her. It’s like Chechnya.” (once)
  • The Department of State strongly cautions U.S. citizens against travel to the Russian occupied regions of South Ossetia and Abkhazia. A number of attacks, criminal incidents, and kidnappings have occurred in and around the area.” (US State Department)

My first visit to Abkhazia only lasted four days. But as I was out exploring every day and crossed almost the whole country twice, I dare say I got enough of a first impression to tell you about it.

And this is what Abkhazia looks like:

train station Suchumi.JPG

waterfront Sukhumi.JPG

botanical garden.JPG

corniche sukhumi.JPG

painter botanical garden.JPG

blue house.JPG

Krone mit Meer.JPG

See mit Boot und Burg.JPG

Kirche Museum Wasserfall.JPG

train station.JPG

Kloster durch Wald.JPG


night Sukhumi.JPG

So, how dangerous was Abkhazia really?

Quite dangerous indeed! Dangerously beautiful and dangerously interesting. It is particularly dangerous for people who don’t want to lose the prejudice about anywhere east of Italy being dangerous, evil and poor.

Seriously, the most dangerous thing was this cat who tried to eat my shoelaces.

Katze Schnürsenkel.JPG

By the way, while I was gone exploring the Caucasus, Germany looked like this:

Lesson: Most travel warnings are useless and wrong because they are issued by people who have never visited the relevant country, or their last visit was 10 years ago, or who are sitting in an office all day and are generally scared as soon as they venture outside.

(Zur deutschen Fassung.)

Posted in Abkhazia, Life, Photography, Travel | Tagged , , | 10 Comments

Persian architecture in Georgia

Tbilisi is formed by so many different architectural styles, that it’s difficult to take a photo of just one. Here, the tower of a brick mosque and a wonderful wooden balcony are squeezing themselves into the picture.

persian architecture.JPG

The building with the blue facade, reminiscent of mosques in Isfahan, is the Orbeliani bathhouse. When I was in Tbilisi, it was unfortunately closed for renovation.

Posted in Georgia, Iran, Photography, Travel | Tagged | 3 Comments

What’s the priority, car or house?

You can either have a big car and a live in a run-down house

big car.JPG

or stick to the old car and live in a mansion.


As you know, I have neither and travel the world instead.

(Photos taken in Tbilisi, Georgia, and in Ganja, Azerbaijan.)

Posted in Azerbaijan, Economics, Georgia, Life, Photography, Travel | Tagged , , | 6 Comments

Poetry Slam (6) Bear

It was my last bottle.
But when you meet a bear,
you share.
He drank it full throttle.

Bär füttern.JPG

(Photographed in Novy Afon, Abkhazia. – But it’s nicer to meet bears who live in freedom.)

Posted in Abkhazia, Photography, Travel | Tagged , , | 10 Comments