Illegitimate children of Jews evicted by Nazis are German citizens, court rules

BERLIN (Reuters) - A U.S. woman who was born to the Nazis in 1938 as the son of a Jewish father who was deprived of German citizenship cannot refuse naturalization as an illegitimate child, the German Constitutional Court has ruled.
The court found that local courts discriminated against a Jewish father's wife, born in 1967, and an unmarried US mother.
Article 116 paragraph 2 of the German Constitution - known as the Basic Law - states that Germans who have had their citizenship withdrawn between 1933 and 1945 for political, racial or religious reasons and whose descendants can regain their citizenship.
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The court ruling of May 20, published on Wednesday, states that illegitimate children of former German citizens are equally entitled to citizenship.
The decision opens the door to offspring of German Jews who were born outside of marriage to become German citizens.
"If a law obliges the state to grant citizenship, that right must be met without discriminating against illegitimate children," the court said.
Jewish activists said it was a "significant judgment."
Nicholas Courtman of the Article 116 Exclusion Group said this had "far-reaching consequences for the naturalization rights of descendants of German citizens who are persecuted under National Socialism".
Germany passed two decrees last year to make it easier for people, especially Jews who fled Hitler's Nazi regime to persecute, and their descendants to restore their citizenship.
The decrees followed a campaign by descendants of refugees from Nazi Germany who are annoyed that their applications for citizenship have been rejected despite constitutional guarantees.
Last year's decrees eased the conditions for citizenship, for example by allowing people with a German mother and a foreign father to restore their citizenship if they were born before April 1953.
The new ruling states that fathers should be able to pass on their citizenship to their children, not just mothers.

(Reporting by Joseph Nasr; editing by Giles Elgood)

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