Hundreds of thousands of Jews fled Germany during the rise of the Nazi regime, and many of these refugees ultimately ended up in Israel. But now the tide seems to be turning back in the other direction.
In the past year alone, more than 4,300 Israelis received German citizenship, according to Israel's Central Bureau of Statistics—an increase of 50 percent over the previous year. And fortunately for the many Israelis with German ancestry, they are not forced to revoke their Israeli citizenship thanks to Article 116 (2) of the German Constitution. They are simply having their citizenship "restored." This law has grown in popularity over the past few years as the security situation has deteriorated in Israel and discontent with the government has escalated.
Israelis with newly acquired German citizenship are enjoying the visa-free travel to Europe and the United States, along with the prospect of cheaper education in Germany and other parts of Europe. One new German citizen was also attracted by the irony:
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."
But other Israelis of German descent don't see it this way. "I would regard it as greatly disrespectful to my parents' memory to seek German citizenship," said a child of Holocaust survivors. But for the thousands more Israelis seeking German citizenship, the financial and security incentives are winning the argument.