Barbara Hanley has a German-Jewish grandfather but does not qualify for citizenship as she was born before patriarchal nationality laws were changed

Like Amelia Hill (‘I’m making my family German’, 3 June), I have a German-Jewish grandfather who fled here after Kristallnacht. My mother married an Englishman and I was born in 1945. Imagine my dismay when, on applying for German citizenship, I was refused. This was because until 1953 nationality could only be conferred through the father; this patriarchal logic had existed from Bismarck through the Nazis to the early Federal Republic. Only from 1953 could the mother also confer nationality. My error was, then, twofold; I was born too early and my mother was the wrong sex. I cannot adequately express the anger that this gross unfairness has created in me.I would be interested in hearing from others with a similar experience. If enough come forward it may be possible to mount a collective challenge to this ruling. If the modern German state is to be taken seriously in its claims to have “come to terms with the past” (Vergangenheitsbewältigung), then it needs to right this wrong promptly.
Barbara Hanley
Cardiff

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