German court: US woman wrongly denied German citizenship


BERLIN (AP) – Germany’s highest court said Wednesday it has ruled that an American woman whose Jewish father fled Nazi Germany was wrongly denied German citizenship because she was born out of wedlock.

The German constitution provides for people whose citizenship was revoked by the Nazis between 1933 and 1945, and their descendants, to have German citizenship restored on application. It doesn’t give a specific definition of “descendants.”

In the case that went to the Federal Constitutional Court, the woman – who was born in the U.S. in 1967 and not identified by name – applied for citizenship in 2013. Her father, born in 1921, fled to the United States and his German citizenship was revoked in 1938. Her parents weren’t married, but her father recognized her as his child.

Authorities rejected her application on the grounds that she was born out of wedlock and could not have inherited German citizenship from her father even if his citizenship hadn’t been revoked.

But the supreme court pointed to a clause in the constitution that calls for children born outside marriage to be given the same opportunities as those whose parents are married. It also found that previous decisions in the case clashed with a constitutional provision that men and women have equal rights by suggesting that citizenship could only be recognized as stemming from a child’s mother.

The court found that the law’s intention of undoing Nazi injustice speaks against an overly narrow interpretation of the term “descendants” to exclude children born out of wedlock.