Perhaps it was the golden angel we met in Dresden who brought me good luck. But 73 years after my parents and grandparents fled Nazi Germany, I received notification that my German citizenship application has been approved. The notification came 15 months after I submitted my application to the German Consulate in San Francisco. I feel happy and relieved. I envision a future for our family where we can divide our time between Germany and the U.S. The news has not quite sunk in yet. Perhaps it will feel more real when I return to Rathaus Schoeneberg to pick up my Einbuergerungsurkunde (naturalization certificate).
When I began the application process I had no idea of the intense emotions that would be wrung from me at each hurdle I encountered along the way. I had a breezy optimism that I might have to wait a bit, but that the rubber stamp would come without much fuss. My eligibility for citizenship was as solid as it gets with two German Jewish parents who were Holocaust escapees. My advice to those who are beginning the process of having their citizenship restored is to brace yourself for a high stakes journey. What began for me as a chance to connect with my heritage eventually became a struggle to obtain what was rightfully mine. That struggle caused many fits of anger and tears, but also brought me many kind expressions of support from my wonderful friends in the U.S. and new friends in Germany.
When my brother-in-law Todd first told my husband and I about the opportunity to apply for German citizenship, neither of us were that interested. We were busy with our family and work life in the Rockies and were not prepared to add this project to our plates. Our feelings changed when Brian received a job offer in Berlin and when we took the time to reflect on the benefits of dual citizenship for our family. Now that the process is drawing to a successful conclusion (we still have to apply for passports and id cards), I am glad that I stuck it out and want to support others who take this step. You may not need a golden angel, but it’s good to know they are out there.