Germany and Poland both have offered citizenship to the descendants of (usually Ashkenazi, or Eastern European) Jews persecuted and/or killed during the Holocaust. In fact, they don’t so much ‘grant’ citizenship as ‘reinstate’ it.
Unfortunately, WWII wasn’t the only time Jews suffered in Europe. Some 500 years earlier, Sephardic Jews — Jews whose ancestors lived in Spain — also were persecuted. So Spain and Portugal also are offering citizenship to descendants.
We all know the rhyme, “In 14-hundred-92, Columbus sailed the ocean blue.” But what fewer people know is that on the very day Christopher Columbus set sail for the new world, large numbers of Jews also were setting sail from Spain… but in fear, not hope and glory.
Those Jews had refused to convert to Christianity. King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella, in turn, destroyed their lives, forcing them to flee, and even making them pay an exit tax.
The Jews knew they’d be tortured and persecuted if they didn’t leave. (They were right. Many who did convert suffered terrible fates during the Inquisition a short time later.)
And so they fled, selling their land for a pittance, and often finding themselves mugged, raped, murdered, or torn away from their children in their new destinations.
The latter happened a lot in Portugal, where many of Spain’s Jews thought they might find a safe haven. Instead, Portugal, too, ended up persecuting and purging many of those refugees.
The whole affair was as ugly as it gets. So now, 500 years later, both Spain and Portugal are offering full citizenship to anyone who has an ancestor persecuted during that time.
If you’re Jewish, it’s you could very well have at least one Sephardic ancestor. And many whose families are Catholic have Jewish relatives from way back who converted to Christianity.
If you suspect Sephardic roots, then start doing some genealogy research. And do it soon — Spain’s offer to reinstate citizenship ends in October of next year.
Offering these passports doesn’t make right an egregious wrong.
But it does give you — and your descendants — something those who were persecuted never had: options.
Click here to find out if you might qualify for Spanish and/or Portuguese citizenship.
Every once in a while, a country’s leaders try to put a balm on a wound from the past. Germany and Poland both have offered citizenship to the descendants of (usually Ashkenazi, or Eastern European) Jews persecuted and/or killed during the Holocaust. In fact, they don’t so much ‘grant’ citizenship as ‘reinstate’ it. Unfortunately, WWII…