The Nazis are Gone. Jews Aren’t.

by Kevin Jon Heller

Here’s something I didn’t know: Israeli descendants of German survivors of the Holocaust are eligible for German citizenship. And they are getting it in large numbers:

Holding her brand-new German passport, Avital Direktor, 29, of Azor, just had to laugh. “What a crazy world,” she thought to herself. “Germany’s soil is drenched with my family’s blood, and in spite of it all, I got German citizenship. I see it as taking revenge on Hitler. Sweet revenge.”

The past year has seen 4,300 Israelis receive German citizenship, according to data released this week by the Central Bureau of Statistics. The figure represents a 50 percent increase over the previous year.


Avital’s grandparents are Holocaust survivors from Berlin and Stuttgart. When she asked them whether they objected to her applying for German citizenship, they asked whether she intended to go back to Germany to pick up where they “left off.”

It took Avital three years to get her German citizenship. “It’s a long and complex process that stems from the rigid Germanic character,” she said, recalling her experiences at the German embassy in Tel Aviv. “They require every possible piece of documentation. They want to see it all. Birth certificate, divorce papers, death certificates, the works.”

“Now, I will be able to pass it on to my children,” she added.

I’m neither Israeli nor eligible for German citizenship, but I understand what Avital means about “sweet revenge.” I feel the same sense of ironic well-being when I am in Vienna, particularly when I stroll across the Heldenplatz, where Hitler announced the Anschluss, on the way to my friends’ apartment or — even better — have coffee at Cafe Sperl, Hitler’s favorite Viennese cafe. (That’s me, above.) Hitler and his minions are long dead. The Jews live on.

Sweet revenge, indeed.

5 Responses

  1. Thank you for the info Mr. Heller. It is sweet indeed. I do have a little story muself: about 3 years ago, I googled my last name and discovered that my grandparents had a “secret FBI Nazi war cime file”. As you can imagine, I was absolutly surprissed. As far as I knew, Dad had been US Army intelligence. Finally when Congress declassified the Holocaust files, I requested those that pertain to my family. Actually, it was only an investigation that they had done.

    My grand parents were art dealers, and were stoped in Uruguay with a very valuable collection, and they suspected that they were dealing looted art. Fortunately, they had nothing to do with war crimes. However, in those files I discovered that my grand father was Jewish (which I had never knew before) that they left France, two months after Kristalnacht, and, that after they left, they had two warehoses full of “antique treassures” looted.

    I wrote the story for a few blogs (thought that I could at least use the power of Google-bomb to help clear my family’s name, since there was no other info that they were innocent). Increadibly enough, My sister (from dad’s first marriage) saw it and decided to contact me.

    Finally, my sister was going over her mother’s old letters, and she found a letter that proved that Dad was with the Counter Intelligence Corps who were the ones who dedicated to hunt Nazis after the war ended.

    Since then, I had to create a blog becuse Google-bomb only works for a while, and decided to set up something more permanent. you can see the blog here

  2. I believe I actually read the above poster’s story on, years ago… such a small world.

  3. Matthew:

    Thanks for the heads up. I will try to find it. I would really like to read the comments.

    Funny thing was that I knew about my grandparents file 2 years before they were declassified. During that time I did not know what to think, even though I knew some of dad’s WWII stories. As of now, I am still trying to find some of dad’s service from NARA, but everything regarding the CIC is absolutely calssified (except of course that which has bee declassified thanks to Barbie’s time in it)

    Here is the story I originally wrote

  4. Maybe it was DailyKos, then, as you indicate it was posted there. I frequent both sites, and probably got them confused.

  5. I did post it at dailykos :0)

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