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My children are becoming German citizens, and I’m going nuts

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Ulrich Steuer’s Jewish theological seminary student card (Courtesy Jonathan Steuer)

Once upon a time there was a young rabbi named Ulrich. He lived with his beautiful wife and their adorable baby in Heidelberg, Germany, a city of poets and composers and philosophers. Ulrich’s city was surrounded by dark forests and nestled by a sparkling river. There was even a castle. Ulrich was happy there. His congregation loved him.

That’s where the fairy tale ends, of course. Ulrich was a Jew in Germany in 1938. After Hitler took power, the idyll gave way to dispassionate ledger-keeping and list-making that categorized that time in history. According to a 1938 inventory of the contents of Ulrich’s apartment, this family had two Persian rugs, 20 neckties, seven purses, two oil paintings, 19 small silver ritual objects, one accordion, one set of skis, 48 linen napkins, 18 hand towels, 42 handkerchiefs, even an ice-cream maker. All markers of middle-class privilege. All markers of a family’s life.

What must Ulrich and Edith—the grandparents of my husband, Jonathan—have thought as Heidelberg changed around them? Starting in 1933, Germany’s Jews lost their government-service and editorial positions. Then they were expelled from the army, saw their citizenship revoked, were prohibited from marrying non-Jews, were banned from public school teaching. Yet relatively few Jews left Germany between 1933 and 1938. They were German. This was their home. The bad times would pass.

One day in 1938, Ulrich’s landlady whispered to him that he had to leave, fast. She’d seen a list on her son’s desk; Ulrich’s name was on it. The landlady’s son was in the SS. Her words convinced Ulrich that it was time to leave the country his family had called home for generations. He procured an invitation to lead High Holiday services at Temple Beth Sholom, a new synagogue in Fredericksburg, Virginia. If he could deliver a sermon in good-enough English, the congregation would hire him as its full-time rabbi. Ulrich’s English was iffy; he studied frantically as Edith packed. They left their home in early September 1938. As a farewell, the shul’s organist played Handel’s “Largo,” as it had at their wedding two years earlier:

Never has there been a shade

of a plant

more dear and lovely,

or more gentle.

Germany confiscated the 42 handkerchiefs, the baby’s chair and potty, the ice cabinet, the fruit plate, the five pans, the four platters, the six metal trays. The inventory notes that the family “acquired for emigration” a fur coat and a gramophone. Those they took with them. Such things, they thought, were needed in America.

A few weeks later, November 9, 1938, was the night of broken glass, Kristallnacht. The city’s synagogues burned. The members of Ulrich’s congregation were rounded up and sent to concentration camps.

But not Ulrich and Edith. They lived in Virginia for many years. Ulrich’s English was good enough. It got better. But he didn’t use it to tell his grandchildren any stories of life back in Heidelberg. Ulrich and Edith were always full of secrets, always full of their own kind of brokenness.

Like so many American Jews, they retired to Florida. Jonathan remembers visiting them in their hushed apartment complex when he was a small boy. He self-importantly pushed the elevator button and ran his fingers through their plush carpeting, leaving tracks.

Ulrich and Edith both died in 1973. The baby with whom they left Germany, Jonathan’s uncle, died in 2000. And now Jonathan is reclaiming a sliver of their past: He has decided to become a German citizen. He is working with The German Citizenship Project, which specializes in helping Jewish victims of Nazism and their descendants become re-naturalized in Germany.

It can be tricky to prove that you’re the spawn of a German citizen, what with the unfortunate combination of Germany’s longtime passion for paperwork and the Nazis’ penchant for burning everything in the waning days of the war. And since Germany follows the principle of jus sanguinis, blood law, not every Jew born in Germany actually was a German citizen. The German Citizenship Project is helping Jonathan move the process along—the organization helped around 150 Jews get German citizenship since 2006. (Other Jews, from Israel, the former Soviet Union, Australia, Canada, and the United States have completed the process independently.)

But Jonathan’s not applying alone; he’s applying for our daughters, too. And to my surprise, I am distressed. Not in that old-school, I-would-never-buy-a-Mercedes way: I think today’s Germans have done their fair share of self-examination and breast-beating, and they themselves weren’t the ones wearing the shiny scary boots. My feelings are more ambivalent and sorrowful.

Jonathan wanted our kids to be able to study and work in Europe as European Union passport-holders. I’m happy about that part. No, really. But still, I’m troubled. Maybe the thing that bothers me most is the notion of being the family member left behind. I’m the one apart, the one who’s not in the dominant group. Maybe the thought of them having this identity I won’t have is painful for its symbolism: Children grow up and inevitably go away. It’s hard to imagine when the younger one is still in kindergarten, but I know it’s inevitable.

Another part of my pain has to do not so much with them being German, but with me being an American. This was supposed to be the new Promised Land; American Jews have typically felt about America the way German Jews once felt about Germany. But nowadays, I’m growing increasingly concerned with the state of things. I’m not saying I see barbed wire and stone soap in our own futures; I’m not that kind of hyperbolic drama queen. But I haven’t felt this kind of despair about our country’s direction before. The joy I felt at Barack Obama’s election makes the anxiety I feel now that much more bitter. We have a government seemingly unable to reform health care (I can’t even talk to my friend in England about her adoptive country’s amazing prenatal, midwifery, and newborn care); we have Tea Partiers offering terrifying invective and Republican officials proposing laws that could have chilling effects on civil liberties. We deny science and our role in global warming. It’s not the president I’m freaked out about; it’s everyone else.

Despite the anxiety in the air, at least we can still take pleasure in the small things. Like reality TV: recently, my seven-year-old, Josie, became obsessed with Project Runway, busily sketching dresses and mimicking Heidi Klum’s double-cheek-kiss-punctuated Teutonic sign-off to the evicted designers: “Auf wiedersehen.”

At least if Josie has to leave her country, she’ll be prepared.

A thousand thanks to Michael Fadus for his generous German translation services.

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I understand something of what you feel. All of my relatives — at least that I know of — who were born in the old country have long since passed away. No one wanted to talk about it, except to admit that they had had some cousins from whom mail suddenly stopped…

But I was born in America. I grew up with a set of values that included both Judaism and The American Way. In recent years, I have feared for my country, not by terrorists from other places as much as for the ignorance of those people who hold the power. One well-meaning man in the White House can’t overcome al the stupidity, and good people in Congress are just giving up.

I happen to speak German (or I did, years ago), because I studied it as a science student. (My mother was appalled.) My kids speak Italian, just because they chose that language.

Nevertheless, while no one is applying for citizenship elsewhere, I am very much concerned.

susan says:

My mother’s father was born in Germany. We don’t have a lot of information about him – just his name. He came here when he was a child. He left my grandmother when my mother was a child and died young in a car accident. His father wasn’t Jewish but his mother and all of my other ancestors were Jewish. I would be interested in pursuing citizenship for myself and my children. Does anyone have any information on how this could be done?

I’m getting increasingly disgusted with this country and my google home page has the daily weather of Tel Aviv and Vancouver. Maybe I should add Munich. I love America and half of the people here. The other half are destroying everything – we’re facing a future where all the jobs for our kids have been outsourced and we’ll have no healthcare for millions and staggering bills to pay for all the tax cuts and bailouts which were sucked up by the top 1%.

Sorry for the diatribe. Just wanted to explain myself.

debi says:

How interesting to read this, as my daughter and I try to regain Polish citizenship for her. Again, the goal is to be able to work and study in Europe.

Does anyone know if there is an organization working with Polish Jews to regain citizenship?

Aaron Finestone says:

How about gratefulness about the USA?

Thank you for pointing to the truth about the dangers in America. In Israel, it seems that the people who care about preserving Jewish values are mostly informed by the likes of Fox News. Misguided and misinformed as they are, at least the goals of Israel’s religious nationalists are to keep Israel Jewish. I wonder about the Jewish people in America who want to live as European citizens for whatever reason. Are they also being misguided and misinformed? Anti-semitism has not left Europe. If anything its manifestation has grown in recent years, and is more acceptable than it was 30 years ago. The same can be said of the U.S. But, tea-party mobs and celebrated ignorance notwithstanding, the U.S. is by and large, more Jew friendly than most anywhere else.

This is a very tense and distressing time to be an American and Marjorie Ingalls expresses it well. We have a government that doesn’t work, public officials who are owned, and a nascent political movement (tea-pattiers) whose goals are anti-rational, anti-democratic, and scary!

susan says:

It’s true, anti-semitism is very prevalent in Europe. I lived in England for 2 years and experienced it all the time but… Germany protects its workers and has health care for all. If you are a baby-boomer thinking that someday perhaps you or your children will not be able to have healthcare it would be nice to have another option.

dave says:

Wow. A bit of economic and political turmoil and people are talking about fleeing America? For EUROPE???

Judith says:

I feel for you, Marjorie. I am in the same predicament. I have the papers on top
of my desk but have yet to file. My husband’s father left Germany after reading
Mein Kampf. He went from country to country in Europe one step ahead of the Nazis
before coming to America. My husband’s grandfather and grandmother died in
Auschwitz, as did an aunt and uncle. So my children could get citizenship as well
as my husband. As a result of WW2, my husband and I have always had up to date
passports for our whole family. That way, we could always leave, unlike his
family who had no papers to leave with. My son wants assurance that he would
not lose his American citizenship. However, it does keep doors open to him that
he may need in the future. One never knows the future, and having an option that
one can use if needed is good. Not needing visas to visit Europe is a positive,
as well as finding jobs is difficult here, maybe he’d have better luck somewhere
else, even if it’s only for a year.

Carrie Delaney RN BSN says:

I am with you, Aaron, in asking, “How about gratefulness for the USA?”

I find it interesting that people want to leave this country when so many are trying to get in. Former Prime Minister Tony Blair thoughtfully said, “I sometimes think of it as a good rule of thumb to ask of a country: are people trying to get into it or out of it? It’s not a bad guide to what sort of country it is.” Even now, citizens of Yemen are waving American flags hoping that we will stand with them against a perceived oppressive dictatorship. (http://www.aolnews.com/world/article/yemeni-separatists-flaunt-stars-and-stripes/19385514)

A near 91 years old man in our synagogue recently passed away. He left Germany in 1937 and I doubt he would be enthralled about Jews returning to Germany. Every Shabbat, he faithfully attended and nearly every Shabbat, he interacted with younger generations at the Kiddush table. During the US Presidential election, I asked this precious soul his feelings to which he replied, “People forget that Hitler (Yemach Shemo) was elected as Chancellor. People don’t understand that you cannot place your hope in one person; people who do that are fools. One person will only let you down.” This man left Germany, a place he loved, because he saw billowing plumes of darkness and hate. Along with the “shining new” Chancellor had come the loss of his rights to worship freely, to own a home, to hold a good job, to healthcare, and to vote among other rights we Americans often now take for granted. I doubt very much the “despair” people say they feel here now comes even close to the despair felt by the Jews of 1937 Germany.

I recall once asking my friend if he would go back to Germany. “Sure,” he said, “for a visit but this is my home now,” his finger pointing to the table for emphasis. After leaving Germany, he came to the United States, married another refugee, held a job, raised children, and became a US citizen. With what money he had, he could have “jumped ship” and gone back to Germany…he saw that chance in his lifetime…or gone anywhere else the grass might be greener but, instead, he gave menially and financially back to the community that offered him the freedom to do so. When someone he didn’t particular care for was voted into office, did he “jump ship” then? No, he continued to give to Jewish and non-Jewish charities alike. If he didn’t roll up his sleeves and lay his shoulder to the work at hand personally, he certainly opened his heart and hand monetarily.

There were many other interactions with this man…too many to review here…but what I took from the relationship was a great sense of practicality…and loyalty. American, do not take what you have here lightly for granted…it can all be lost in a twinkling. Rely not on what others do for you…rely on what freedom has given you…the opportunity to change what you do not like…beginning with yourself… one person at a time.

Peter W. says:

It was the National Socialist German Workers Party (the Nazis) that destroyed my family. Big government engineered the Holocaust, and only big government can engineer another one. It’s a shanda that tea partiers, the vast majority of whom are in favor of freedom and small, limited government, are smeared. Need I remind you that the left, especially in Europe, is teeming with haters of Israel and the Jews?

dave says:

BTW, Israel has nationalized health care.

susan says:

I’ve done everything I can. I’ve always voted Democratic, I write, email, facebook, etc. my congresspeople. I give money to democrats, moveon.org, etc. All politicians here are owned by big business. I don’t see how it’s going to turn around. I have insurance for now. I imagine everyone who is talking about “loyalty” has insurance. I know a family who are paying $25,000 a year for insurance and have lost their jobs and almost exhausted their savings. Should they die of treatable diseases because they are loyal to America? Look at Germany’s unemployment rate. They pay the highest wages in the world and still manage to keep a very viable export and manufacturing sector. They haven’t sent all their jobs overseas.

Bernie says:

My parents left Germany or actually would have been killed had they stayed. They were fortunate to have had compassionate people sponsor them to come to this country. Many family members perished at the hands of the Germans. I guess I am of the “old school”. I won’t buy a German product. This is my protest although a samll one in the scheme of things. To think of a Jewish person wanting to become a German citizen after what the Germans did is beyond me. I know the young people of Germany didn’t take part and many care deeply about what happened. I would not be here today if it weren’t for my parents coming to America. We have problems here but so does every country. Germany? Never.

Charles Fogelman says:

I want to say, “I just don’t know what to say” to all of this, to make a point, but I guess that would be silly, since I’m about to write some things in response.

I serve on a number of voluntary boards dedicated to improving things in American life, some inside and some outside the government. When I introduce myself for the first time, (you know the round-robin), this is what I say:

“I am a very, very grateful first-generation American. Were it not for this miracle of a country, my parents, who were born on the other side, would not have escaped unrelenting oppressions. And were it not for the generosity of my home town,New York City,its libraries, its public education, and its soul, my mother would not have become a teacher, my father not a doctor, and I would not be here today. I can never fully repay this debt, but my work here is one way I hope to reduce it a little.”

There may well be places in the world which people leave saying something like, “I want to get out of here and go to (Germany? France? India? Japan? South Africa?), but the people I’ve met and heard about all seem to be saying, “I want to go to America.” This would not have surprised my wife’s late grandmother, who, on being asked late in life whether she’d consider a trip to Europe, responded, “No thank you darling, I’ve been there.”

As an aside, Israeli friends of mine, olim of many years standing, are making sure that their children and grandchildren have American passports. Not EU passports, American passports. I’ve often thought that our country is closer to a Torah-congruent society than any other has been since (and maybe even when) the Temple was destroyed–individual and collective responsibility, the rule of law, and more. I have no reason to change that view now.

I am unhappy, and worried, about where our country is now, but I do not despair and I am, still, an American Optimist. And despite my disappointment of the moment with the President, I try to take the long view, believing he will in time show himself to be the leader so many of us hoped him to be. We have had very, very bad times before, and yet and still here we are. This is a robust place, this miraculous experiment of ours. I am sure it will surprise, and delight, us all again.

Paul says:

As a historian of Germany and one who has many German acquaintances and even some friends, I would advise those who are thinking of taking out German citizenship or living in Germany that they may not know the deeper realities there. One Dutch friend who teaches in a pleasant German university is desperate to leave with his teenage children because of what he says is the lack of familial warmth that afflict all their German friends, for instance. There is still a harshness underlying German life despite the superficial pleasantness and pleasantries. Of course, there are exceptions to this; but it is still a society in which the shoals conceal some very unpleasant rocks beneath and which one runs aground on with time. This is all apart from the what I would dare to call the disgrace for any Jew to become a “German” or an Austrian after what has happened. Is a mere 65 years enough time to put all that behind us and “move on” as that awful cliche has it? So much for our much invoked Jewish “memory”. Anyone who gives a little thought to the issue cannot but conclude that Jewish and German relations can never be “normalized” even if individuals may become friends and states have friendly relations.

Still very scared to go to germany.
never forgive them i was a twin .

Carol says:

While I don’t think that your husband is guilty of a heinous crime I’m concerned he and you seem to regard a passport as a conveyer of identity . For a Jew, the only real identity flows from the fact that his soul stood at Sinai and betrothed himself to the One G-d.

Stan Nadel says:

I have been living in Austria for 8 years and would gladly take out Austrian citizenship IF Austria allowed dual citizenship. A second passport and the right to work anyplace in Europe are benefits not to be sneezed at. BUT Austria doesn’t allow dual citizenship and even in the worst of the Bush years I wouldn’t have given up my US passport for an Austrian one for the same reason the author has qualms about her kids becoming Germans. But they would have dual citizenship and 2 passports and that would be a good thing for them.

Thank you for sharing your family’s story. My father’s family left Germany in the late 1800′s, and my husband’s mother’s family escaped in the late 30′s. Not all of them made it. My husband and I both identify as half-German Jews, and four years ago, we went back to Germany to see where our families lived. Germany is a beautiful country, and everyone we met was incredibly nice to us, but it still felt… weird. Alien. Not us. Perhaps it’s because we spent a lot of time in towns where Jews no longer live, where synagogues no longer stand, but it didn’t feel right. Although I can see the advantages of an EU passport, I think it would be hard for me, for us, to take on German citizenship.
However, I totally relate to your sentiments about the state of our country – I just always assumed we would make aliyah and go to Israel…
I wish your family the best of luck with everything, and thank you for sharing your writing. It’s lovely and inspirational.

Jessica says:

The tea partiers should be the least of your concerns in this country! What a laugh.

Thank Hashem that we still have health-care that (while imperfect) is is driven by the consumer, not some bureaucrat letting old people rot in moldy hospitals like the UK. I for one do not want to change the fundemental relationship betweeen the government and the governed with a health-care bill that puts unelected, faceless men and women in charge of every aspect of our lives.

You should be more afraid of the anti-Israel spewing preacher at the church where Obama spent 20 years, and the people around Obama who are Palestinian sympathizers on the left, rather than people who want to live freely with the limited government our Founders created.

The USA is the last best hope on earth for freedom, part of freedom means that you are not “guaranteed” health care, a house, a job or anything else.

If freedom falls here — where can the next Ulrich escape to?

dusan kahan says:

Maybe this will help Debi
debi says:
Mar. 8, 2010 at 11:41 am

Does anyone know if there is an organization working with Polish Jews to regain citizenship?

You may write to . Hope she can help.

dusan kahan says:

I don’t see mail adres of the lady who may help Debi. It is then: jochweta at gazeta dot pl.

Ury Vainsencher says:

I will not say a word about US internal affairs. They are your business, not mine.

But any Jew who is considering leaving the US to get health benefits… (almost) free education… might at least weigh coming here, to Israel? Instead of Germany?

- You’re welcome to keep your American passport
- Very good health insurance is compulsory and available to all (for a very modest slice of your income, practically free if you’re old/studying/unemployed)
- Education can be very good – especially the universities
- And lastly – we own this place! We’re at home! Can you grasp the perfectly bearable lightness of being John Doe???

VHJM van Neerven says:

Ury Vainsencher: Thank you from the depth of my heart and history.
“Can you grasp the perfectly bearable lightness of being John Doe???”
That says it all.

jonathan says:

Hi there. Jonathan here, the Husband of Marjorie who has actually applied to have my German citizenship reinstated.
-
For those of you who are somehow convinced that my family are America Haters, nothing could be farther from the truth. We like it here. We’re involved in our local Jewish and secular communities. We love New York City. We’re not planning to leave here to move to Berlin, Tel Aviv, or even San Francisco at this point. Being a German citizen doesn’t require me to renounce my US citizenship, nor does it even require that I live in Germany or speak German (which I currently do not). But having options is good — especially options that can be passed down to future generations.
-
I thought I might share with you the email I sent to my siblings and first cousins, which explains my rationale for applying for German citizenship:
-=-=-=-=-=-
Fellow Descendants of Ulrich Steuer:
-
It seems somehow appropriate that this message should arrive on the 20th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin wall.
-
As you may or may not know, [my brother] David and I have been exploring the possibility of German re-naturalization. Dave started the process about 17 years ago when he lived in Berlin. I recently heard of a law firm here in New York that specializes in this sort of work, and restarted the process. You can read more about the details here:
-
http://germancitizenshipproject.com/

Why might you want to be a German citizen? Here are a few factoids that I considered in the process:
-
=> For the kids!: When I graduated from college, I lived abroad and worked for a year. It was reasonably hard to do that legally then, and it’s even harder now, post-9/11. I’m happy to have the opportunity to make it easy for Josie and Max to live and work in Europe at some point if they so choose, and having an EU passport is a great way to do this. Our Brazilian cousin Ricardo Herz is living in Paris now, taking advantage of such an opportunity.
=> Because we CAN: On some level, I admit that I simply like the idea of making a bloodline-obsessed German functionary being forced to process papers assigning Liberal Jewy Me Who Doesn’t Speak German all the same rights in the Fatherland that he has. The combination of this little bit of schadenfreude and post-Holocaust entitlement make me want to do this just because it’s possible.
=> Fear of Another Dubya: Our last President was such a moron on the global scale that for a while, I was seriously worried about whether he’d simply make international travel on a US passport actually impossible…
-=-=-=-=-=-
Whether or not you agree with my rationale, I’m confident that it’s the right thing to do for me and for my family. If you wish to berate me for my choice without adding to this discussion, please do so in private email (jonathan at cyborganic dot org) rather than posting here.
-jonathan-

Yehudit says:

Want to add to those objecting to tea-partiers being smeared. If you want our country to move farther from the original American ethos and philosophy of small government, as laid out in the Constitution, you’re entitled to legally battle that out with your fellow citizens. But it’s demonizing and slanderous to characterize as “scary” and “nutty” and “stupid”, people who just want America to continue as she was founded. It is But we urban liberal Jews (I live in NYC too) continue to trust Ivy League technocrats while calling ourselves Democrats, and applauded our chief executive scorning people who “cling to their guns and religion” (while congratulating ourselves for how sophisticated and unbigoted we are).

You want the same people running healthcare as run the VA, DMV, USPS…I’m sure you can name as many huge faceless bureaucracies which treat consumers like crap because they can. The NYC Teacher’s Union, with its rubber rooms? I don’t know about the Israeli system, but I do know what the Obama admin is trying to shove down our throats. Yes, shove down our throats. Why would they be considering these arcane acrobatic parliamentary maneuvers if most Americans wanted the bill? Every Congresscritter saying no to that bill has thousands of constituents burning up the phonelines yelling “Dont you DARE vote for that thing or we will turn you out.” They aren’t selfish or stupid. They have very good reasons to think it’s a very very very bad bill.

Our government works just fine. It was designed to frustrate any grandiose executive who wanted to enact sweeping changes. Utopian technocrats hate gridlock and incrementalism, which hamper their grand schemes. Thank you, John Adams.

Yehudit says:

Your reasons are fine, it’s just the gratuitous and predictable stereotyping which accompanies it. As a Jew in NYC, I know all these tropes by heart.

I just want to address the “Dubya hanging around my neck while I travel” trope. The countries which might have been unpleasant to you while GWB was Prez are the same countries in which some officials want to kidnap and try Israeli officials as war criminals, if possible. Countries in which lots of people really liked GWB, and often Israel as well: Most of Eastern Europe. Kurdistan. Lots of Africa (because of PEPFAR). India. Australia. The Iranian democracy movement. And of course Israel was much fonder of him than Obama. IOW countries which like capitalism and/or have Islamists in their face.

America is still the most powerful country in the world. Everyone else is going to have some attitude about us, no matter who the president is. Sometimes it’s deserved, sometimes not. Right now Obama is pissing off most of the world; even France doesn’t like him any more.

Obama’s policies are certainly less friendly to Judaism as a religion and to Jewish concerns, as well as to all who seek freedom. The home of anti-semitism in the guise of demonization of Israel is the far left who seems to more and more control and characterize the Democratic Congress and administration. Freedom of religion and other constitutional rights are threatened by the increase of governmental controls that are being proposed (and hopefully will never come to fruition).

So, Marjorie and Jonathan, maybe your political concerns will be lessened, though the consequences are fraught with danger.

Gene says:

I was born in Germany in 1932 and was lucky enough to have parents who read the handwriting on the wall (literally) in 1934. Quite frankly, reading this article turned my stomach. I wouldn’t want the shame of a
German passport or the horror of being in the country that built Auschwitz. Work in Europe? Become a German just to get a job? How cheaply some people sell themselves, and how quickly they forget. Read the European press and learn about the anti-Semitism of the European left. Whatever may be difficult in the U.S. at this moment is the result of change and circumstance, and this too shall pass. It is not a permanent state of affairs. Those who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it.

Allen Dorkin says:

Thank you for a most informative narrative on things past. I am still suspect of the feelings harboured towards Jews. Can those feelings erupt once again?

I really dont think that your additional comments on Democrats vs. Republicans, have any place in an article so well versed. I think you do a disservice to your abilities when you are so sidetracked. I think that your own experiences should teach you something about tolerance, even if they are “Republicans”, and even if they dont agree with your own platform.

Good luck with the citizenship process.

Wendy says:

I’m a descendent of German Jews who barely escaped from Germany in 1938. My grandmother bribed a guard at Dachau where my grandfather was being held and fourteen days later they were on a boat to Shanghai where my mother was born. I applied for renaturalization and received my German citizenship last year. My daughters 8 & 10 also received theirs. My family and I are relocating to Europe this summer. I’m overjoyed by the opportunity to live and work in Europe legally and for my family to experience a cultural legacy that we are entitled to.

Jens says:

Two comments:

1. Do not underestimate the cultural differences between Europe and the US if you really consider to move to Eruope. While I cannot judge upon the specific challenges a Jew faces when returning to Germany (full disclosure: I am a non-Jewish German), I generally had the impression that it takes a while to adjust to the different mentalities in Europe an the US. Nevertheless, I firmly believe that if you give us the time, you will discover the beautiful side of Europe. It takes longer to find friends, but those friends will probably be friends for life.

2. There is anti-semitism is Europe, for sure. But there is also a sense of civil responsibility that fights this anti-semitism – something that was not present in the 1930s. I generally have the impression that American newspapers tend to inflate anti-semitism in Europe. I would concede though, that Isreal faces much more cricism in Europe – about its handling of Gaza, the security fence, Arab Isrealis etc. Part of this criticism is just plain anti-semitism. But there is also a genuine discussion about what is best for Israel.

Charity Vanbebber

carol koenig says:

Dear Marjorie,
The wonders of the internet allowed me to read this. I actually
receive the daily Tablet column but never read your story. Rabbi
Steuer was the Rabbi at my synagogue in Hammond,Indiana for all of the years I grew up there. He and Edith were our neighbors across the alley
in Munster and I have a picture of one of my early birthday parties with your husband’s uncle Ted as a guest! We were about 6 years old.

Recently a friend from the area passed away and some of us were
reminiscing at the funeral when Rabbi’s name came up. I decided to
google him and found your column which I will share with several people
who will be very interested. I never knew the history of Rabbi and Edith, as these holocaust stories were kept from us as children.

My grandparents and parents wanted me to have a Bat Mitzvah and Rabbi
Steuer was very much against it but he finally allowed it and trained
me. I still have the prayer book from 1956 with his note in it and
the portion I read.

I was sorry to hear that Tom died and I assume Robert is your husband’s
father. My maiden name was Sparber and I am sure he will remember me
so please extend greetings for me. Where does he live as last I knew
he was in the east somewhere. I have no idea where Ted is either.

This, being the new year, has touched me….bringing back wonderful memories of my shul growing up and beautiful Edith once lovingly teaching me how to eat a pomegranate.

I know they both suffered serious illness in their later days and struggled terribly and will never forget the tragic news of their death.

I hope you and Jonathan will come to a comfortable resolution to his
pursuit in memory of his beloved grandparents.

With all good wishes,
Carol Sparber Koenig

Lal Bahadur KC says:

Dear Sir:
I read your article about getting European citizenship and I am interested to settled in Europe.
So I want some correct information .
Lal Bahadur KC
Currently in India
New Delhi
Nepali passport Holder

ELBA says:

im trying to get in contact with my father hitler,im elli belinda hitler hes dauther.i need all my papers to go back to germany.im german and im elli belinda hitler,he do hundrets of texts of blood from me went i was achild and i went to germany with him.he can do anything again from me and had the real dauther of hitler aind petraca or gina,or juana is elba zenaida ruiz montes.they went a lot of times before but never with my father only me..elli belinda hitler,he had something from me that he told me is something very important and nobody else now just my father hitler,he can look what im talking about.he is my fahter and im hes dauther,,father if you see this think n what im talking about,is me elli belnda..

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