800 Soviet Jews Now in East Germany, Thousands More Applying in Moscow

Some 800 Soviet Jews have arrived in East Germany since the beginning of the year and want to stay there permanently, according to Klaus Pritzkuleit, an official of the East German government office that deals with newcomers.

Pritzkuleit said most Soviet Jews who have decided to settle in Germany prefer East Germany, because they find it they can adapt there more easily than in the West.

The West German government has told East Germany that it would honor the status of these immigrants as East German citizens when the two countries formally merge on Oct. 3. The new East German Jews would then automatically become citizens of the united Germany.

A flip side of the same coin can be seen in West Germany, where the Foreign Ministry reported last week that some 10,000 Soviet Jews had applied at Bonn’s embassy in Moscow for refugee status as “ethnic Germans.”

Thousands of Soviet citizens, mainly non-Jews, have emigrated here in recent years on that basis. Ethnic German refugees are entitled to immediate West German citizenship and various financial benefits.

Authorities in Frankfurt have set up a committee to help Soviet Jews who have already immigrated to West Germany prove they are ethnic Germans. The status has been denied to hundreds of the newcomers on the grounds that they could not be Jews and German nationals at the same time.

Critics in West Germany have recently accused the Foreign Ministry of implementing strict measures to process applications of Jews while demonstrating flexibility in the cases of non-Jews.

In the past three months, a few hundred Soviet Jews who were rejected for West German citizenship have settled in East Berlin, where they have been recognized as refugees.

NEXT STORY