(JTA) — The German government has amended its citizenship laws to make naturalization easier for descendants of those who fled the Nazi regime because of persecution, including Jews.
The amendment Wednesday cemented into law two decrees that the Interior Ministry had announced in 2019.
The amendment and decrees affect several hundred applicants who applied for German citizenship but had been rejected because they were born to a German mother and non-German father. Until 1953, German citizenship could only be passed on through the paternal line.
“This is not just remedial, but an apology offered in deep shame,” Interior Minister Horst Seehofer said in a statement about the amendment.
In 2019, he said the decrees were meant to help not only those who fled Nazism but their descendants.
Since the Brexit referendum in June 2016, the German Embassy in London has received more than 3,380 applications for restoring German citizenship under Article 116 of the German constitution for descendants of people persecuted by Adolf Hitler’s Nazi Party. In previous years, only about 50 such requests were made annually.
The new decrees loosen the conditions needed for citizenship, for example by allowing individuals with a German mother and foreign father to have their citizenship restored, provided they were born before April 1953.