The Nazis are Gone. Jews Aren’t.
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.