After the Brexit vote, thousands of Britons applied for dual nationality. But for the British Jewish community, many of whom are the descendants of those who fled Nazi Germany, the referendum result has created a unique dilemma.
One off documentary British Jews, German Passports follows three British Jews as they decide whether to activate a clause in the German Constitution that permits descendants of German refugees to reclaim German citizenship. Whilst seeking German nationality offers up the possibility of retaining benefits associated with being a citizen of an EU country, for Britain’s Jews Germany has more commonly been associated with the traumas of the Holocaust.
Each of the contributors featured in this programme must therefore confront their own family history. Doing this involves delving into archives and tackling difficult questions. Baroness Julia Neuberger grapples with questions of identity, while Robert and Hilary return to their ancestral homes in Germany for the first time. Hilary discovers where her family originally came from and investigates whether a legend she was told as a child might actually be true. Robert has always wanted to know what actually happened to his grandparents and his cousin Karla. He unearths their final journey and is able to say a prayer at the place where they were deported to their deaths in 1942.
As the journey concludes, each has to come to terms with whether they can cope with reclaiming German citizenship. All are influenced by how contemporary Germans deal with the past, but not all can overcome their family’s tragedies.
British Jews, German Passports airs on Tuesday 2 May 2017 from 10.45pm-11.20pm on BBC One.