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Polish/EU Citizenship by Descent



amipolish8 1 | 24    
21 Feb 2017  #1

All 4 of my grandparents were born in Poland so I feel like there should be some way for me to obtain Polish citizenship by descent (or at least some other EU citizenship). My maternal grandfather lost his citizenship when he joined the red army. A few years later he joined the British army (doesn't this count for something?). My maternal grandmother left Poland before the holocaust and she lost all of her documents.

My paternal grandparents were born in Vilnius. They fled the country when the holocaust happened. As jews who were trying to survive, they had to leave Vilnius. I managed to get copies of most of the required documents (e.g. birth certificate, refugee camp documents that state they had to flee the country, etc.). These documents clearly state that they're both Polish. The thing is that my grandfather's dob on these documents is incorrect and it doesn't match up with the dob on his current ID. I think that my grandfather changed his dob during the holocaust because it was necessary for his survival. Does this mean that I can't get a Polish passport?

The documents I mentioned also mention my uncle and clearly state that his Polish by descent even though he was born in Italy. We have a copy of his birth certificate. My uncle's dob is THE SAME in all the documents including his current ID. I don't think my is aware of this because he doesn't have a Polish passport. Can I use this to prove that my grandfather is Polish? If so, would my uncle need to reobtain his Polish citizenship first?

If Poland refuses to accept these documents, can I get a Lithuanian passport since my grandparents were born in Vilnius (which is now part of Lithuania)? Also, if Poland refuses to accept these documents restore my uncle's Polish citizenship, wouldn't it mean that my uncle is Italian because he was born "stateless" in Italy?

My grandfather was born in Vilnius late 1915, back when it was occupied by the Germans. Does this mean that my grandfather was also a German citizen because he was born in what was "Germany" at the time? Can I use this to obtain German citizenship or PR based on en.wikipedia.org/wiki/German_nationality_law#Victims_of_Nazi_persecution?

If you were able to get this far, thank you for reading all of this. Any information would be greatly appreciated.


Archive Dweller    
21 Feb 2017  #2

The information that you gave is sketchy at best. The issue is whether either of your parents were Polish citizens at the time of your birth, and how you might document that. See related thread here:

https://polishforums.com/law/poland-citizenship-eligibility-ukrainian-80661/
You suggest that you are Jewish, which adds another layer to things. Jews have been lining up to claim Polish citizenship to get into the E.U. The modern Polish state has made an effort to right the wrongs of Communists scapegoating the Jews and deporting them to Israel, etc Generally speaking, before 1962 service in a foreign military would revoke citizenship. The circumstances of that service could make a difference, and the President of Poland can be petitioned to restore citizenship that was lost. The facts about your maternal grandfather, and an uncle born in Italy are curious. I wouldn't be surprised to learn that he escaped the Soviet Union as part of General Anders' Second Army, then defected in Palestine before joining the British army there. Hundreds if not thousands of Jews did that.

If you know where and when your other grandparents were born, you might be able to find their Polish birth certificates. You might consider hiring a Polish genealogist. Before the modern era, people were able to reinvent themselves. Women in particular got older in order to marry, etc. What importance it has for a citizenship recognition petition is anyone's guess, and might depend on the facts of the case and judge/administrator making the decision. Quite possibly, your grandfather was afraid of something, a criminal record or an arrest warrant are possible reasons for that.

I would highly doubt that you could claim German or Lithuanian citizenship, but I am not an expert on those countries' citizenship laws. There are Polish lawyers who specialize in citizenship claims. You can find them on the Internet.

A quick review of the Lithuanian nationality law on WP states that the 1991 Lithuanian Constitution has a right of return clause for those who left Lithuania after the 1940 Soviet occupation and their descendants:

en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lithuanian_nationality_law#Post-Soviet_implementation
If true, many Poles would be dual citizens of Lithuania, since the Wilno/Vilnius region was populated by Poles, and Polish Jews before WWII. I would anticipate hostility from Lithuanian authorities from ethnic Poles or Jews attempting to make such a claim. Their return would make Lithuania much less Lithuanian in the modern sense.
OP amipolish8 1 | 24    
21 Feb 2017  #3

Re:#2
Thank you so much for your response. Yup, that's pretty much what my maternal grandfather did. He joined those armies in order to survive and because of that he lost his Polish citizenship.

My other grandfather did not serve in the military before 1962 so he never actually lost his citizenship. The uncle I mentioned above is his son. I've discussed my case with a Polish immigration Lawyer and she said that the dob issue has to be resolved in order for me to be able to apply for citizenship. The thing is that I have no idea how to fix this. The only thing that comes to mind is using my uncle to show that my grandfather is polish and that he has different documents with different dates of birth on them.
delphiandomine 87 | 15,827    
21 Feb 2017  #4

Is your grandfather (the one with the changed date of birth) still alive?
OP amipolish8 1 | 24    
21 Feb 2017  #5

He was when we started gathering the documents and the lawyer said we got all the documents we needed other than my grandparents' marriage certificate and that the dob is the main issue. Sadly he passed away a couple of years ago close to his 100th birthday.
delphiandomine 87 | 15,827    
21 Feb 2017  #6

I'm sorry about your loss.

I don't really know what to suggest in this case, although it seems to me that the lawyer should have been able to figure it out. In theory, you could petition the Polish courts to make a definitive ruling as to his actual DOB, which should then be entered into the Polish birth registry.

However, there is a glimmer of light. You can obtain Polish permament residency without fulfilling the residency requirements based on being of Polish heritage, and in your case, it should be awarded without much difficulty. You could then learn Polish to B1 standard while living in Poland for 3 years, which would give you the ability to apply for Polish citizenship.

I would also try submitting an application directly to the Polish president.

A suggestion - perhaps you could try getting in touch with the Jewish community in Poland and ask for their assistance?
OP amipolish8 1 | 24    
21 Feb 2017  #7

Thank you so much for your help and suggestions. The thing is that I don't really want to move to Poland for 3 years. I'd be happy to move there for a few months, but 3 years is a long time.

I didn't know you could actually submit an application directly to the president. How long does it take to process? Do I need to pay a lawyer?

I'm not sure how I can ask Jewish community in Poland help me if I don't know anyone who lives there. Also, Vilnius is part of Lithuania now, isn't it? So maybe I should try the Lithuanian community? I don't really know anyone there either. We got the documents with the incorrect dob from the International Tracing Agency in Germany. Do you think there's some way to get them to correct it?
delphiandomine 87 | 15,827    
21 Feb 2017  #8

I didn't know you could actually submit an application directly to the president. How long does it take to process? Do I need to pay a lawyer?

No, no need at all, you just need to be able to fill in the form. I'm sure you could find someone to help you online for free.

msz.gov.pl/en/p/dzakarta_id_a_en/consular_information/polish_citizenship/application_for_polish_citizenship/application_for_polish_citizenship - here you are. There's actually a good chance that you could get it, especially if you explain the circumstances.

I'm not sure how I can ask Jewish community in Poland help me if I don't know anyone who lives there.

They are very helpful. Try warszawa.jewish.org.pl/en- explain your background and history, and I'm almost certain they will help. By all accounts, they're very supportive of people of Jewish descent from Poland.

Also, Vilnius is part of Lithuania now, isn't it? So maybe I should try the Lithuanian community? I don't really know anyone there either.

No, stick with Poland. Lithuania is much more difficult for various reasons, and I'm pretty certain that they won't recognise your grandparents as Lithuanian citizens.

We got the documents with the incorrect dob from the International Tracing Agency in Germany. Do you think there's some way to get them to correct it?

No idea, unfortunately. You could ask, but I have zero knowledge/experience of them.
Archive Dweller    
21 Feb 2017  #9

There is a good website explaining Polish citizenship by descent here: polishcitizenship/law/

A man who joined Anders' Army to escape starvation and the Soviet gulag did so to survive. Deserting the Polish Army in Palestine and joining the British Army to promote Zionism would likely be considered voluntary renunciation of citizenship, and not something done for survival. (The President of Poland can restore this if he wants. I wouldn't recommend petitioning him until you exhaust other avenues first, and acquire more documents from the archives.) You have discussed the matter with a Polish attorney, your issue is simply how to prove your claim from your paternal grandfather with Polish documents. (Before 1951, citizenship was only conferred by the father for legitimate children.) Did his death certificate DOB match his Polish birth certificate? If not can you petition a court to change it? That might end your problem. Otherwise, what other documents in Poland or Lithuania might be found to prove his real age? You might try to find educational records, or Polish Census returns from your family from 1931. These are not yet open to the public in Poland, since they are less than 100 years old, but you may be able to have them produced. (I don't know if Lithuania has copies of these returns. Their laws are different.) Your fundamental problem is that you need documents from Poland to prove your citizenship to Polish authorities, but they hold the evidence.

With regard to the modern Lithuanian state, understand that it has a population of only 3 million, and they have quite an inferiority complex about Wilno/Vilnius in particular. Tolerance of the Jews is part of Polish culture, but not so among the peasant cultures that were given the ethnically cleansed cities of the Second Polish Republic after the war despite their Nazi collaboration. Since you clearly have at least one other citizenship other than Lithuanian, you are not ethnically Lithuanian, and apparently don't speak Lithuanian expect some hostility, since they frown on dual citizenship. They may well consider you a Pole:

en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Poles_in_Lithuania#In_independent_Lithuania
Possibly, if you have documentary proof that your grandfather left Wilno to serve in the Soviet Army, that might be helpful, but you will need to consult a Lithuanian lawyer about any rights you may have there. I just don't know if they ever considered the citizens of the Second Polish Republic to have been Lithuanian citizens after the Soviets left briefly in October 1939, before annexing all of Lithuania less than a year later. You might consider contact a Polish or Jewish organization there to see what rights, if any, you might claim.
delphiandomine 87 | 15,827    
21 Feb 2017  #10

the ethnically cleansed cities of the Second Polish Republic after the war despite their Nazi collaboration.

There is absolutely no need for such a racist statement towards Lithuanians.
Archive Dweller    
21 Feb 2017  #11

Rereading this, it looks like you need to focus on finding that marriage certificate. If his age on that matches his birth and death certificates, I don't think the other document matters much. I don't even think it is needed for a citizenship petition under the historical circumstances.

Sadly he passed away a couple of years ago close to his 100th birthday.

The fact that Lithuania hasn't welcomed back Polish Jews and their descendants, considering the well documented history of collaboration with the Nazis and the holocaust rather speaks for itself about Lithuanian culture.
gjene 12 | 189    
21 Feb 2017  #12

Have you tried to look at the Polish forum on Easyexpat.com. You can read through the 3 sections in regards to citizenship. First you are going to need to figure out the issue are you of Jewish descent that lived in Wilno/Vilnius or of Polish descent.
delphiandomine 87 | 15,827    
21 Feb 2017  #13

First you are going to need to figure out the issue are you of Jewish descent that lived in Wilno/Vilnius or of Polish descent.

You're confusing the issue. Ethnicity/nationality is separate to citizenship.

In the OP's case, they were Polish in regards to citizenship, and this is what is being discussed.
OP amipolish8 1 | 24    
21 Feb 2017  #14

Sorry the dob on his birth certificate is actually correct. The dob on his Polish ID and refugee camp documents is incorrect. We have so many documents that I'm getting a bit lost and confused.
Archive Dweller    
21 Feb 2017  #15

Reread my above post.

Why can't you find your grandparent's marriage certificate? Where were they married?
delphiandomine 87 | 15,827    
21 Feb 2017  #16

If the DOB on his birth certificate is correct, I would try and see if you can obtain an updated version of his birth certificate. I don't know what happened to the records from Vilnius - however, it should be enough to prove that he was a Polish citizen.

edit: OK, I checked, and you need to get in touch with the Urząd Stanu Cywilnego in the Śródmieście district of Warsaw. Contact details are here - usc.um.warszawa.pl/siedziby-usc/siedziba-usc-w-dzielnicy-r-dmie-cie

They should be able to issue a modern birth certificate for him, which will provide you with the proof needed of his Polish citizenship. The other documents aren't an issue, though if they're demanded, then you should find a way to get them corrected.

One suggestion is that his child (your parent) should actually apply for citizenship first, as it will make it straightforward for you to get it that way.
OP amipolish8 1 | 24    
21 Feb 2017  #17

Here's a list of the documents that we have:
Correct DOB:
Birth certificate - dob: 1915 (correct DOB)
Other citizenship certificate from 2014 stating that he was born in Poland - dob: 1915
Most recent ID - dob: 1915
Another recently obtained document (census?) - dob: 1915
Incorrect DOB:
A.E.F Registration Record from Jan 1946 - dob: 1919 (incorrect DOB)
Immigration & refugee camp related documents stating that my grandfather was deported to Germany for forced labor - dob: 1919 (incorrect age). These documents also state that my grandmother is his wife and that my uncle is his son. The dob that is listed for my grandmother is also incorrect.

Other documents:
A letter from the government stating that he didn't serve in the military.
Statement or document in polish that he signed in 2014 when he was alive. Since the document is in Polish I have no idea what it says.

My uncle's birth certificate
delphiandomine 87 | 15,827    
21 Feb 2017  #18

I'll have a think about this tomorrow, but from what I can see, there's nothing stopping his child from applying for Polish citizenship, which then makes your application a formality.

Have you actually applied for citizenship, or are you basing your opinion on what the lawyer has told you?
OP amipolish8 1 | 24    
21 Feb 2017  #19

"Why can't you find your grandparent's marriage certificate? Where were they married?"
I'm trying to find a way to obtain it. The thing is that they got married somewhere in Italy between 1945 and 1948, but we don't know exactly where. Up until recently we thought my grandparent got married in Verona, but we're not so sure anymore. I recently contacted Verona city hall (Servizi Demografici) but they couldn't find my grandparents' marriage certificate. I need to email Servizi Demografici in Milan and Cremona to check if they have it.

"Have you actually applied for citizenship, or are you basing your opinion on what the lawyer has told you?"
All the info I gave you is based on what the lawyer said.
Basically she said that we can't submit an application until the following issues are resolved:
1. The dob mismatch issue
2. We need my grandparents' marriage certificate

That was my other grandfather from Zamosc. He's certainly not Lithuanian. He left Poland when he was 15 because he knew the Nazis were coming and feared for his life. His family didn't believe him and they refused to leave Zamosc. I don't know if he knew he was going to join the Red/Soviet Army when he left but I do know he left because of the Nazis and was right to do so because his whole entire family was murdered in the holocaust. It was totally a survival thing. A few years after joining the Red/Soviet Army he joined the british army. When I asked him about obtaining a polish passport he told me that he was stripped of his Polish citizenship because he didn't serve in the Polish army or something.
Ironside 44 | 8,307    
22 Feb 2017  #20

because he didn't serve in the Polish army or something.

Prolly because he joined the Red Army in the war time treason and such were taken seriously. In that case go for Lithuanian passport.
OP amipolish8 1 | 24    
22 Feb 2017  #21

"Prolly because he joined the Red Army in the war time treason and such were taken seriously. In that case go for Lithuanian passport."

But my paternal grandfather from Vilnius didn't serve in the army, so he should be eligible.

But if Poland refuses to consider me a Pole than shouldn't Lithuania grant me citizenship?
Ironside 44 | 8,307    
22 Feb 2017  #22

But my paternal grandfather from Vilnius

I don't know about your grandparents. I'm saying that if your both parents at the time of your birth have had Polish citizenship you would be entitled to the Polish passport.

If we are talking about grandparents I don't know. If some of them were striped or lost their citizenship that could be a problem. Why don't you direct those question to the Polish embassy?
OP amipolish8 1 | 24    
22 Feb 2017  #23

My mom was definitely never a Polish citizen because her father was stripped of his Polish citizenship during WWII. My father was because his parents never really lost or renounced their polish citizenship and they didn't serve in a non-polish army.
Archive Dweller    
22 Feb 2017  #24

It sounds like your paternal grandparents lied about their age to the Nazis, possibly hoping for some misguided compassion, and those Nazi I.D. documents were used for the erroneous documents, or their was just some clerical error. Look harder for the marriage record. It will end your problem. I don't know why the docs with the erroneous DOBs would be required for a citizenship claim, but I do recommend getting his death certificate. It might be useful for your claim.

I am also not sure that you maternal grandfather actually lost his Polish citizenship:

Article 11.
...Persons who are obligated to active military service can only obtain foreign citizenship after obtaining a general military service obligation release according to rules in force. Otherwise, they will be still considered Polish citizens by the Polish State.

Read the explanation here regarding the 'military paradox':

I think that it is very prejudicial if he deserted the Polish Army, but not technically disqualifying according to the above.

So, I recommend finding that marriage record, and then claiming Polish citizenship through BOTH parents. I also think it would be very foolish to apply for Polish citizenship now without the required documents. The bureaucracy in the Polish system should never be underestimated. It is extremely trying, even for native Poles.

Again, Lithuania probably doesn't feel obligated to do anything. They may call your grandfathers war criminals:
slate.com/articles/news_and_politics/history/2015/07/lithuania_and_nazis_the_country_wants_to_forget_its_collaborationist_past.html
OP amipolish8 1 | 24    
22 Feb 2017  #25

War criminals :o. Srsly?? They lost their families in the holocaust and ran for their lives.

The lawyer said that the process of obtaining citizenship for someone who passed away is extremely complicated but since he was alive when we started the process when he signed this document in polish and since we got this other citizenship form from the government we don't need to go through that. Given what she said, wouldn't the death certificate complicate things?

Why do I want to claim citizenship through both my parents? It's going to take us forever to find all the documents for my maternal grandfather. I don't even know if it's possible given that he lost his entire family in the holocaust so his birth certificate was probably burned or buried by the Nazis.

Interesting... I just google translated part of my grandfather's birth certificate and it says "Lithuanian Soviet Socialist Republic" ("Lietvus Tarybu Socialistine Respublika"). His birth certificate doesn't have anything filled in for his parents' nationalities (Nationality : -)
Archive Dweller    
22 Feb 2017  #26

That is very incorrect. The process is for recognition of YOUR Polish citizenship. You do that through your parents and grandparents. The stronger the case that you can make, the less likely you are to get denied by some paper pushing bureaucrat looking to get your application of his/her desk. (Too frequently, that is how these people think.) The birth records of the Second Polish Republic still exist in Poland, although in rare cases those documents may have been damaged during the wars. You are making a mistake if you haven't requested those records from the Polish records office. They will be in Polish with an official stamp and seal. Even if the Soviet birth record is in Polish, how do you get it authenticated now that the Soviet Union is extinct? Your claim is very straight forward, but you must complete the paper trail properly. Otherwise, it will easy for the bureaucrats to deny the claim.

The lawyer said that the process of obtaining citizenship for someone who passed away is extremely complicated

You can try the Lithuanian option if you like, but it is full of obstacles, not the least being proving that your grandparents became Lithuanian citizens before the Soviets annexed Lithuania in 1940.
Archive Dweller    
22 Feb 2017  #27

A death certificate contains more personal information for genealogical purposes than most other documents, like a war time ID based upon information given to one or more occupying armies. It usually contains that persons date and place of birth, names of parents with the mother's maiden name, name of a spouse, and possibly also any military service. It might also be used to fill in a gap in the paper trail from a missing marriage record. Assuming that your grandparents died somewhere other than Poland, and that is the same country in which you and/or your parents were born, it would strengthen your claim of Polish citizenship by descent by proving where people went and lived after the war.

Given what she said, wouldn't the death certificate complicate things?

OP amipolish8 1 | 24    
22 Feb 2017  #28

"The birth records of the Second Polish Republic still exist in Poland, although in rare cases those documents may have been damaged during the wars. You are making a mistake if you haven't requested those records from the Polish records office"

Even if I could get my other grandfather's birth cirtificate, I'm not sure that I'm going to be able to get all the other required documents. Sadly, my grandfather is no longer alive. We don't have access to his stuff because his wife (my step grandmother) really hates us. Also I think my grandfather served in 5 different armies or something and back when he was still alive he made it very clear that he'd lost his Polish citizenship.
Archive Dweller    
22 Feb 2017  #29

You are being negative and stubborn. The documents you should get are official government documents, not old family documents kept in a shoe box somewhere. They might help find where to get the official docs, but themselves may not be of value as evidence of your claim. So from the Polish records (Urząd Stanu Cywilnego) office you should request the birth certificates of all four of your Polish born grandparents. If the palce of birth is still in Poland, then request it from the local office for that location. For Wilno, or other places annexed by Stalin, write the Urząd Stanu Cywilnego in Warsaw:

ul. gen. Wł. Andersa 5
00-147 Warszawa

These will come in Polish with the official stamp and seal needed for your citizenship petition. Assuming both of your parents are legitimately born, you need the marriage certificates of your grandparents. These must be exemplary copies with official stamps and seals issued by the local court from the place of the marriage. Then you need your parents' birth records (so you can claim through both), and also the exemplary copy of their marriage record as for your grandparents. Last you need your birth certificate. All birth certificates should be the long form showing the names of both parents, etc. If any documents don't match properly with dates or spellings, consider also filing the death certificates. All non-Polish documents must be be authenticated, usually with an apostille for international use in the country that issued them, then translated into Polish by an official translator in Poland. Yes, it is time consuming and expensive.

Sorry the process is so complex and difficult, but this is the fate of descendants of the Second Polish Republic that was destroyed first by its enemies, and then betrayed again by its allies. WWII is known as "the war we lost twice" in Poland. You are part of that. It has been easier for foreigners in the E.U. to come to Poland, and then claim Polish citienship, than it has for people who left fleeing the Nazis and Communists. It isn't fair, but that is how it is. I've done my best to advise you and help. I can point you in the right direction, but only you can travel the path.
OP amipolish8 1 | 24    
22 Feb 2017  #30

Thank you for your help. Do you happen to know if is there some way for me to email the Urząd Stanu Cywilnego to ask for the birth certificates? Does the Urząd Stanu Cywilnego in Warsaw have an email address? Also, I'm assuming that they don't speak English or do they? Does the letter or email I send them have to be written in Polish?

Also, there's basically no way for us to get my maternal grandmother's records because we don't know her real date of birth. I don't even know if we can get her real name and place of birth. She moved out of Poland when she was 3 years old and for some reason her parents changed her name and dob. She never actually knew what her real dob was.

I've emailed several Servizi Semograficis in Italy asking if they happen to have my paternal grandparents' marriage records. So far none of the offices I've emailed seemed to have it. Honestly, I don't really know what to do. There's a chance that my grandparents got married during the holocaust before they were transported to Italy. If that's the case, I'm not sure who to contact. All that I do know is that my grandfather's A.E.F Registration Record from Jan 1946 says he's married, which means that my grandparents probably got married before then.




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