By Joshua Newman
Following the United Kingdom’s decision to leave the European Union, or the ‘Brexit’ vote, Britain and Germany are seeing a large uptick in applications for German citizenship by descendants of those who fled Nazi rule, reports Al Jazeera.
This rise in immigration from Britain to Germany is due to a provision in the German constitution that states that any person or descendant of a person who lost their citizenship due to Adolf Hitler’s regime, from January 30, 1933 to May 8, 1945, may apply to have their German citizenship reinstated.
The Telegraph reports that tens of thousands of refugees fled Germany during this time. Most refugees were Jewish, and both they and their descendants are capable of reclaiming their German citizenship.
This number includes the nearly 10,000 unaccompanied Jewish children that fled Hitler’s rule in Germany; many of them are the only remaining survivors of the Holocaust.
Though the number of descendants reclaiming German citizenship is large, the scale of the increase following the Brexit vote is startling. Al Jazeera reports that in 2015, only 43 people applied for citizenship under the law. Since then, this number has jumped dramatically, according to the Associated Press.
In 2016, directly following the Brexit vote, the number of applicants rose to 684. The next year the number was 1,667. These numbers come from the German Interior ministry in response to a parliamentary question posed by the opposition party Free Democratic party. According to this report, most of these former citizens are Jewish Germans and members of affected political parties.
Germany is not the only country seeing a rise in British immigrants following Brexit. Al Jazeera also reports that France saw the number of British citizens applying for French citizenship rise from 386 in 2015 to 3,173 in 2017. Ultimately, these immigrants want to retain some of the benefits of being in the European Union.
The rise in Jews of German descent leaving also comes as anti-Semitism is on the rise, reports CNN. Though Britain is one of the safest places for Jews in Europe, there were 727 anti-Semitic incidents in the first half of 2018. This statistic comes from the Community Security Trust (CST), are a charity that fights anti-Semitism.
CNN also reports that many Jews are headed for various destinations around the world, not just Europe.
While Israel is a popular destination, other countries are also becoming increasingly popular. Gideon Falter, chairman of the Campaign Against Antisemitism (CAA) said, “We are seeing British Jews increasingly talking about leaving and also seeing signs of people actually leaving, not just to Israel, but also to the United States and Canada.”
These numbers come as Britain’s main opposition party, the Labour Party, becomes mired in anti-Semitism accusations, most of them swirling around the party’s leader Jeremy Corbyn. The New York Times reports that though the Labour Party finally adopted the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance’s definition of anti-Semitism, there are still serious uncertainties around the issue.
In 2012, Corbyn was endorsed a mural widely criticized as anti-Semitic. The New York Times continues that there are worries that the Labour Party could see a split similar to the one seen in 1981, which could weaken opposition to the Conservative Party in Britain, leaving them almost unopposed.