Rising number of Israelis applying for German citizenship

Rachel Loxton
Rachel Loxton - [email protected]
Rising number of Israelis applying for German citizenship
A German passport. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Fabian Sommer

Germany is seeing a spike in the number of Israelis of German descent applying for citizenship through restitution, new figures show.


Significantly more Israelis with German ancestors have submitted applications to authorities for so-called restitution citizenship. 

From January to April of this year alone, 6,869 applications were received, German media outlet RND reported, citing figures from the Federal Office of Administration (BVA). A total of 9,129 applications were received in the previous year as a whole, while the number in 2022 was 5,670.

The spike in applications comes following the attack on Israel by terror group Hamas on October 7th 2023, which saw around 1,200 people, most of them civilians, killed and hundreds taken hostage. 

Israel subsequently launched a retaliatory military offensive in Gaza that has killed more than 35,000 people, mostly women and children, according to the health ministry in Gaza. 

Routes to citizenship 

Germany's Office of Administration is responsible for naturalisations on the grounds of restitution after persecution.

In June 2021, the so-called “reparation citizenship” law was passed in the Bundestag, which closed legal loopholes which had led to descendants of people who fled Nazi Germany to escape persecution having their applications for a German passport rejected.

Under the new law, descendants of those deprived of German citizenship on political, racial, or religious grounds between 1933 and 1941 can claim citizenship through their parents' restored citizenship.


There were a total of 13,989 applications for naturalisation through restitution in 2023, compared to 11,399 in 2022.

Around 9,371 people have applied to become German through this route so far this year. After Israel, most applications come from the USA. 


The Federal Archives are also recording an increasing number of research requests from descendants of persecuted Jews. In 2023, the Federal Archives received more than 1,000 enquiries about the so-called 'Resident List' (Residentenliste). From January to April 2024 alone, 500 requests were made

The list is partly based on the supplementary cards of the census that took place 85 years ago, on May  17th 1939, in the German Reich. At the time, the cards were used to record the entire Jewish population in order to subject them to Nazi laws.

The census reports provide evidence of the dramatic decline in the Jewish population in the German Reich: While more than 500,000 of the total 65 million inhabitants were Jewish in the 1933 census, the total Jewish population fell to 400,000 by the end of 1937 (140,000 of them in Berlin) - and to just 277,500 in 1939.

READ ALSO: ‘We reclaimed what was taken from my Jewish grandparents – German citizenship’



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