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By Associated Press
BERLIN – Simon Wallfisch grew up in London as the grandson of an Auschwitz survivor who had vowed never to return to the land where her parents lived had been murdered and 6 million other Jews.
But more than 70 years after the Holocaust, Brexit Wallfisch and thousands of other Jews in the UK have applied to apply for German citizenship, which was deprived of their ancestry by the Nazis during the Third Reich. 19659007] "This catastrophe, which we call Brexit, has led me to find only one way to safeguard my future and the future of my children," said the 36-year-old Wallfisch, a classical singer and cellist who has worked in the October received his German passport. "To stay European, I have adopted European citizenship."
Britons who have dual citizenship from an EU country like Germany will retain the privileges of free movement and work in the future 27-nation bloc. 19659007] Many Britons whose ancestors came from other parts of Europe called for citizenship in other EU Member States so they can maintain contact with the continent.
The German Embassy in London says that since the Brexit referendum in June 2016, more than 3,380 citizenship applications were received pursuant to Article 116 of the German Constitution, which enables the descendants of those persecuted by the Nazis to regain remote citizenship between 1933 and 1938 1945.
By comparison, in the years before Brexit, only about 20 such applications were submitted per year.
Wallfisch's grandmother, Anita Lasker-Wallfisch, was 18 years old in December 1943 when she was deported to Nazi Auschwitz, a death camp in occupied Poland where more than a million Jews were murdered.
She survived because she was a member of the girl's orchestra of the camp. As a cellist she had to play classical music while other Jews were taken to the gas chambers.
In November 1944 she was taken to Bergen-Belsen – the concentration camp where the diary writer Anne Frank died after she was also brought from Auschwitz to the city at about the same time – where she was finally taken by the British Army in April 1945 was freed.
Lasker-Wallfisch emigrated to Britain in 1946, married and had two children. Her career as a famous cellist took her around the world, but it took her decades to overcome her hate in the 1990s to re-enter German soil.
In recent years, Lasker-Wallfisch, a 93-year-old regular visitor, educated children in Germany about the Holocaust and spoke last year during the annual Holocaust memorial service of the German Parliament.
Lasker-Wallfisch, her grandson Simon and her daughter Maya Jacobs Lasker-Wallfisch performed on the International Holocaust Remembrance Day on Sunday for the first time together on the stage of the Jewish Museum Berlin to commemorate their family. They played with other members of their extended family and read letters from the past in homage to the survivors and those who died in the Shoah.
Prior to the show, the three generations sat on the red couch in the Museum Locker Room and told The Associated Press of the emotional thoughts that went into the younger couple's decision to accept German citizenship.
"We can not be victims of our past, we must have hope for change," said Maya Jacobs Lasker. Wallfisch, a 60-year-old London psychotherapist who is Simon's aunt and still waiting for recognition of her German citizenship. "Somehow I somehow win in a strange way, something closes."
More than just the ability to travel easily from country to country or maintain business relationships, Jacobs Lasker-Wallfisch said there are other, more emotional reasons to acquire German citizenship, Britain is due to leave the European Union on 29 March.
"I feel a liveliness (in Berlin) that I have not experienced before, but it makes perfect sense because I'm German." Jacobs Lasker-Wallfisch said. She added, "If the country behind the Holocaust now welcomes the descendants of the victims," that's a good thing.
But Anita Lasker-Wallfisch, who experienced the horrors of the Holocaust, remained skeptical and pessimistic.
"The Jewish people never feel secure," she said to her daughter and grandson, reminding her of her own past "I had German citizenship – it did not cost me any security."