Citizenship is, and has been, one of the most important concepts in Western culture for thousands of years. The revocation of citizenship has often been made extremely difficult, if not impossible. However, beginning with the Nazis rise to power, German laws regarding citizenship began to be influenced by the party’s extreme anti-Semitism. These laws culminated in the 11th decree; a law which stripped all Jews of any form of German citizenship.[1] Due to this act, and after experiencing the horrors of the Holocaust, almost all surviving German Jews sought to divest themselves of their former nationality, utterly and completely. In the article, “Jews or Germans? Nationality Legislation and the Restoration of Liberal Democracy in Western Europe after the Holocaust”, David Fraser and Frank Caestecker suggest that many in the Jewish community sought a categorical refuge in being classified as stateless persons. They show that many considered the categorizations of “German” and “Jew” to be in conflict with each other due to the torture one faced and the hands of the other. Additionally, Fraser and Caestecker show that protection from persecution by governments of Western Europe was a contributing factor for Jews seeking statelessness. However, for a multitude of reasons, governments in western Europe were often eager to restore German nationality, much to the dismay of the Jewish community. Fraser and Caestecker also state that, while antithetical to what most contemporaries would assume, recognition by governments, of the 11th decree and its stripping of the German citizenship of Jews, would be the only way to start undoing the harm of the anti-Semitic legal regime of Nazi Germany.[2]
Fraser and Caestecker show that, during and after the war, many policy makers were of the belief that German Jews would want to return home and rebuild their lives. They also assert that many politicians wanted to actively resist the idea of nationality laws based on race. Politicians were often confused by Jewish resistance to their re-naturalization. They suggest that this came out of the ignorance of politicians to the extreme Jewish experience at the hands of Germans.[3] Additionally, politicians were working under legally based idea of citizenship, not the more symbolic and metaphysical idea that many Jews subscribed to.[4] Despite Jewish opposition, many Western European countries recognized the original citizenship of many German Jews. In those countries, this frequently caused laws directed at Germans to affect their victims as well. Jews who had fled Germany to find refuge in the United Kingdom found themselves in a confusing and frustrating legal situation. While most had been classified as stateless persons when immigrating to the United Kingdom, after the war broke out, many were defined as Germans and therefore, enemy aliens.[5] This allowed the government in the United Kingdom to intern German Jews indefinitely, often times, side by side with German Nazi sympathizers.[6] In the Netherlands, immediately following the close of the war, Dutch border guards were instructed to not allow any foreigners into the country, even Jews who had formerly lived in the country.[7] Additionally, until the end of the 1940’s, the Netherlands made an extremely difficult and time consuming pathway to become a Dutch citizen for those German Jews who desired to stay.[8] In Belgium, German Jews were forced to undergo an investigation of their conduct during the war. Additionally, many were subjected to their property and belongings being taken in the same manner as every other German.[9] The Jewish community had been subject to possibly the most horrific act committed in Western history. Yet they were forced to endure even more persecution, often side by side with their abusers and torturers. This injustice was unique to the Jewish diaspora.
Jews desire to never again be recognized as “German” quickly found its way into the court and political system. Fraser and Caestecker show this by pointing to the stories of Jews and Jewish organizations who fought long legal battles attempting to revoke their restored citizenship. This fight was often in line with attempting to recognize the legal authority of the 11th decree. Many United Kingdom police stations saw an extreme influx of German Jewish refugees seeking to be declared as stateless persons after an article was published detailing the legal argument of how to do so.[10] COREF, the organization for German Jews in Belgium, actively lobbied against identification cards that listed refuge Jews as stateless, but of German origin.[11] COREF and other Jewish survivors would continue their fight even though, by 1947, most adverse effects to being considered German had vanished.[12] Jewish opposition was so fervent against being declared German or being forced to return to Germany that many in the Jewish community who eventually did return to Germany were regarded as traitors.[13] In April 1944, the Intergovernmental Committee on Refugees, after receiving pressure from Jewish survivors of the Holocaust, suggested that German Jews be given the option of opting-out of repatriation.[14]
Fraser and Caestecker suggest that Jews sought a recognition of their statelessness both on a moral principle as well as a practical one. They thought, morally, that being separated from those who had participated in and created the death machine that had engulfed much of the Jewish community was their right. They also began to think practically, Fraser and Caestecker assert, that due to the unique brutality experienced by the Jewish community, specific forms care and support were necessary.[15] This legal principle, argued and founded by Hersch Lauterpacht, would eventually find footing in the United States. Beginning in 1945, American occupation forces would stop forcibly renationalizing Jews. It would take until a year later for French and British forces to begin doing the same.[16] By the end of 1946, American, Jewish-only, displaced persons camps, would hold 145,000 individuals.[17] Finally, the unique reality of the Jewish experience during the war would begin to be understood. Only four to five percent of German Jews would ever choose to return to Germany.[18]
            Fraser and Caestecker imply that much of the resistance towards recognizing German Jews as stateless was a desire to protect the national interests of the countries who were places of refuge. Many had concerns about Jews being willing to leave because of the difficulty of removing stateless persons after World War One and the small international legal protections stateless persons were afforded. It was clear that many of the governments of Western Europe sought to restore the nationality of German Jews because they were seeking a way to return these peoples to their home or third country as to not deal with the ramifications of a large influx of immigrants.[19] Britain specifically sought to keep large numbers of Jews from staying in the United Kingdom, or especially, immigrating to Palestine. Due to feeling the need to be able to return these peoples somewhere after the close of the war, Britain and other countries felt they could not recognize large numbers of Jews as stateless.[20] The question of where to send these Jews at the close of the displaced persons camps also confused and evaded American policy makers.[21] Even after countries stopped forcibly repatriating Jews, many would still heavily insist that immigrants return to Germany or find a different country to live in.[22]
Fraser and Caestecker conclude that, to those who had not experienced the Holocaust, repatriating German Jews seemed like it would be the most liberal and logical action while also protecting the self-interests of all concerned nations. However, this attempt at the political refutation of the racial laws created by Nazi Germany would only look, to the Jewish community, to be an attempt at minimizing the emotional impact these laws had on an entire community. Fraser and Caestecker assert that only by recognizing the legal and moral impact of the 11th decree, could the world begin to repair the damage done by the legal tyranny of Nazi Germany.[23] Fraser and Caestecker finally assert that the removal of German nationality did not only remove a feeling of belonging from so many Jews, but put of a permanent barrier in time of before the Holocaust and after the Holocaust.[24]
Works Cited
Fraser, David, and Frank Caestecker. "Jews or Germans? Nationality Legislation and the  Restoration of Liberal Democracy inWestern Europe after the Holocaust." Law and          History Review 31, no. 2 (May 2013): 391-422.

[1] David Fraser and Frank Caestecker, "Jews or Germans? Nationality Legislation and the Restoration of Liberal Democracy in Western Europe after the Holocaust," Law and History Review 31, no. 2 (May 2013): 395.
[2] Fraser and Caestecker, 421.
[3] Fraser and Caestecker, 399
[4] Fraser and Caestecker, 417.
[5] Fraser and Caestecker, 397.
[6] Fraser and Caestecker, 396.
[7] Fraser and Caestecker, 410.
[8] Fraser and Caestecker, 415.
[9] Fraser and Caestecker, 408.
[10] Fraser and Caestecker, 398.
[11] Fraser and Caestecker, 416.
[12] Fraser and Caestecker, 417.
[13] Fraser and Caestecker, 414.
[14] Fraser and Caestecker, 415.
[15] Fraser and Caestecker, 401.
[16] Fraser and Caestecker, 403.
[17] Fraser and Caestecker, 402.
[18] Fraser and Caestecker, 414.
[19] Fraser and Caestecker, 413.
[20] Fraser and Caestecker, 421
[21] Fraser and Caestecker, 402.
[22] Fraser and Caestecker, 415
[23] Fraser and Caestecker, 421.
[24] Fraser and Caestecker, 422.

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