As Brexit approaches, figures show that Germans who made Britain their home are increasingly applying for repatriation. The majority are the families of those who fled because they were persecuted by the Nazi regime.
An increasing number of people living in the UK have applied for repatriation to Germany since the June 2016 referendum result for Britain to leave the EU, according to government figures.
Individuals who were persecuted by the Nazis and their descendants made up the majority of those applying, a report on Friday said.
Of the 3,731 applications since 2016, 3,408 referred to the German Constitution’s Article 116. Under the article, former German citizens who were deprived of citizenship on “political, racial, or religious grounds” — and their descendants — are entitled to have citizenship restored.
Read more: Will Brits say ‘au revoir’ to French dream post-Brexit?
Tens of thousands of Jews fled Germany for the UK before and during World War II. They included some 10,000 children who were evacuated as part of the so-called “Kindertransport” between December 1938 and August 1939, most of whom never saw their families again.
Sharp rise in applications
The increase in those applying for repatriation increased significantly after the UK’s Brexit referendum, according to figures published by the Funke Mediengruppe newspaper group.
In 2015, there were only 59 applications, while in 2016 — the year the UK Brexit vote took place in June — there were 760. In 2017, 1,824 applied, and 1,147 applied in the first eight months of 2018.
The Funke Mediengruppe figures were obtained in response to a parliamentary question from Germany’s pro-business Free Democrats (FDP).
Read more: Germany preparing for no deal on Brexit, says Merkel
Aside from Jews, many other groups fled Germany and the Nazi regime, including members of the Roma community, homosexuals and political opponents.
According to FDP interior affairs spokesman Konstantin Kuhle, the development showed that many UK citizens were keen to retain “the benefits of European citizenship” within the EU.
“This is not surprising given the British government’s chaotic Brexit negotiation line,” Kuhle said, adding that the EU should not forget “that many people in the UK feel close to the EU.”
Read more: Plotting Conservatives reject Theresa May’s Brexit plan
The 2016 referendum, called by then Prime Minister David Cameron, ended with 52 percent voting in favor of Brexit, and 48 percent against.
The number of Britons living in Germany who seek German citizenship has also increased significantly since June 2016.