It took two years, but now it is done: I am a German again after more than 20 years!

The process started over two years ago when I went to the German embassy in London. When it was my turn, the official asked me what I wanted, and I handed her my lapsed passport and asked to get it renewed. She looked at it, then at me, then at the passport again. What happened next took me by surprise: she confiscated my old passport and told me in no uncertain terms that I was not a German anymore. If I wanted to become a German, I would need to start from scratch and get re-nationalized. Unbeknown to me, I would have had to apply for dual citizenship back in 1999 when I took British nationality. By not doing it, I lost my German nationality.

Now followed a two-year process of application. This meant retrieving and supplying documents over documents over documents. I would have hardly been surprised if they has asked me for the fingerprints of my grandmother. Yes, the Germans are still the world champions of bureaucracy, if you ask me.

But why did you want to become a German again?

Glad you asked!

People who know me well are aware of the fact that I was never really proud of being German. As I grew older, I was often even ashamed. One of my research subjects had long been medicine during the Third Reich, and it was this topic that disenchanted me with Germany. Therefore, it seemed entirely right to become a Brit. In fact, I felt proud – the UK was my chosen home, and the decision was meant to be for life.

Never in my wildest dreams did I think in 1999 that Britain would one day succumb to the collective death wish of leaving the EU. After the deeply dishonest referendum in 2016, I was still convinced that this act of extraordinary self-harm would be prevented. But then it did happen, not least due to the lies of the right-wing of the Tory party and the two-faced incompetence of Jeremy Corbyn and his followers. I remember the morning that I heard it being announced on the radio; I was in tears.

Brexit itself would have been bad enough but the way it changed the atmosphere in Britain was even worse, in my view. With the nationalists in power, every halfwit seemed to feel entitled to let out his xenophobic vomit at will. Lying and corruption in politics became the new norm. The press remained largely silent or even supportive of those who claimed that Brexit would bring back the great British empire. The few who had the courage to object were declared to be ‘enemies of the people’. Britain, I felt, was fast becoming a banana republic.

Most of what had made me once aspire to be British had vanished in a matter of months. It was time to reconsider my position. The first step my wife and I took was to move to Cambridge. We felt it was an enclave of sanity in a country that seemed to destroy itself. The second step was to spend more time in Brittany, my wife’s place of birth. Without exception, our French friends felt that the UK had lost its senses and had become the laughing stock of Europe. The third step was to apply to become a German citizen again.

Now that all this is done, I feel both happy and sad. Happy to be a member of the EU again, and sad to see what has become of the country I so loved.


25 Responses to Yesterday, the Royal Mail delivered my German passport

  • Feel your pain. You were lucky to have an alternative and glad you succeeded in the end. Will you stay in UK? If so does it mean anything changes?

  • The concept of being proud of the place that you were born at always seemed weird to me, since I never understood what achievement these “patriots” celebrate. For me, patriotism is an atavistic, tribal instinct that sadly gains popularity throughout Europe. Unfortunately, this is also true for Germany and parties like the AFD and the “Querdenker” movement are worrying.
    Although this apparently was a difficult decision for you, I am happy that I can call you a fellow citizen (again), especially since I am certain that you will continue to argue against nationalism and promote rationality and humanism!

  • Good luck – and thanks for all the fish!
    (Douglas Adams – A Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy.)

  • Unfortunately this isn’t an option I have, at least until Scotland achieves independence and rejoins the EU.

  • The UK is now a banana republic voted for by banana republicans who voted in their millions to leave the EU and also who voted in their millions for the current bunch of bent bananas in government.
    So it is no surprise that the UK has a banana republic NHS complete with long waits to see GPs, A and E depts in chaos with people dying whilst waiting for an ambulance. There are lots of bewildered banana republicans being forced to go private whilst waiting to see a consultant.
    No wonder CAM is booming with more and more of the banana republicans driving this popularity. Evidence Banana Medicine is no good if it is not easily accessible.
    I am surprised that there isnt a CAM banana therapy now on offer to treat all the poor banana republicans now going bananas and suffering. That would be very homeopathic.
    Meanwhile some will be able to leave this banana republic and be able to escape other countries like Germany. I just hope that Putin doesnt turn off the gas. It was bananas for the German economy to rely on gas from Russia.
    The UK maybe not the only country that has gone bananas.

    • I think the key to understanding this is strangely our colonial history. Apart from the obvious motivations of greed and empire, etc, if the inhabitants of a place do their utmost to be anywhere else, it’s because the place is a dump.

  • This is so sad and so unneceaasry.

    But I’m sure you’ll be heartened to see that Charles Windsor wants you to stay in the UK so much, he’s got the Government to blocade the ports: Dover traffic: Port declares critical incident over long queues – BBC News

    • I’d say that ‘monumentally stupid’ is the operative phrase. By reinstating trade barriers, these brexiteering fools have shot themselves in the foot in no small way.

      Just one small example from my personal experience: as an electronics engineer, I regularly need electronic components, some of which I used to order in the UK. Before the brexit, these orders were dispatched the same day, usually to arrive on my doorstep the very next day.

      Nowadays, orders from the UK can take anything between 2 and 8 days to arrive, and have also become significantly more expensive. And with some suppliers, I now need to submit all sorts of customs paperwork.

      As a result, it is now often faster, cheaper and more convenient for me to order stuff from the US(!), even with a relatively expensive dollar and shipping halfway across the globe instead of a couple of hundred kilometres.
      And I am certainly not the only one with this experience.

      But hey, maybe HRH the Prince of Wales can come up with some sort of ‘Integrative Trade’ that doesn’t come with all the drawbacks and red tape of real trade, and saves tons of money to boot …

      Anyway, good to hear that Edzard finally regained his German citizenship. Even though Germany as a country has good reason to be ashamed about what their leaders and their followers did over 80 years ago, I think that this should not be extended to individual Germans (unless of course those who still harbour extreme political sympathies).

  • “Willkommen zurück als deutscher Staatsbürger, Herr Professor. Wir sind besser, als unser Ruf uns erscheinen lässt.”
    Welcome back as a German citizen, Professor. We are better than our reputation makes us appear. 😉

    If time permits, I recommend a quiet vacation at Lake Constance in Lindau, Meersburg or Konstanz. From there it is also only a short detour for a visit to Austria (Bregenz for example), Switzerland or even Liechtenstein. 🙂

  • So many threatened to “leave” after both Brexit and the election of Trump. Most did not have the gumption to back up their words. At least you walk the walk when you talk the talk.

  • As a nationalized German citizen, I also welcome you back. Two things relevant to your experience: the confiscated passport and dual citizenship.
    In the 1980’s, as the result of the incompetent US mail, my new passport failed to arrive. I went to the consulate in San Francisco and had one issued within hours. Later, the original arrived and was mailed on to me in Germany. I asked the US embassy here whether it mattered that I now had two. They said I should mail one to them. I did. It was returned with holes punched in it, and the accompanying letter told me to hold on to it: “It remains valid as identification.”
    When I applied for German citizenship after living here more than 20 years, the German bureaucrat told me the US required that I give up my citizenship there. At the US consulate in Dusseldorf, I was told that it was Germany who required that. Only as I began running into US-Americans who had taken German citizenship without giving up US citizenship was I sure that both sets of officials had lied to me.
    The US people in Dusseldorf did tell me there was normally no difficulty in changing citizenship back. Naturally, I believe them.

    • it is my understanding that the regulations regarding dual citizenship have changed several times. if true, it means that they depend on the period we a relating to.

    • Dual citizenship in Germany is a very complicated field. The Federal Office of Administration writes: According to the basic conception of this law, dual citizenship, which the law refers to as multiple nationality, is therefore possible, but not envisaged as a rule. There is no general entitlement to dual citizenship (multiple nationality).

      On their homepage they then explain how and in which cases one can nevertheless retain or acquire multiple citizenships.

      It is probably still “easiest” for those persons whose states do not release them from citizenship. I had a colleague who could keep her Moroccan citizenship when she accepted German citizenship many years ago.

  • I am conflicted in this post, in order to become a US citizen you must renounce prior citizenship via oath of allegiance. You cannot have dual citizenship in US, your prior country can though, will issue a passport. Just feels dirty flipping allegiance. Especially staying in host country, besides politics. .
    On your side of pond, maybe that is normal. Can you switch citizenship every voting cycle?
    Is it normal to hop around Europe for citizenship when you team loses?

  • Congratulations. Unfortunately I don’t have any options to escape this banana republic but one possible if you’re young, fit and can speak French is to serve in the French Foreign Legion. You can apply for citizenship and have residence rights afterwards.

  • If you have some spare money a”Golden Visa” is more comfortable than the Foreign Legion, e.g. in Malta

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