Returning home?

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“Because I did not return to Hungary, I lost my nationality. I became stateless. An outcast. No papers, no residence permit, no work permit. I often worked illegally, was cold and hungry, travelled with a false passport. It took me 12 more years to obtain a nationality and become a recognised civil being again.”

Trude Levi; © Aegis Institute Survival: Holocaust Survivors Tell Their Story, Beth Shalom Holocaust Centre.


In 1935, the Nazis had taken away the citizenship of Jews living in Germany. As they invaded and occupied lands, the Nazis also took away the nationality from millions of Jews across Europe.

Consequently, when the war ended Jewish survivors had no papers and no passport. They were in essence people of no nationality, with no official name, no home and no country to return to.

Those survivors who did begin to return home to search for relatives were often treated with hostility from the non-Jewish population. Many of the locals feared that the Jews would demand that their property and belongings be returned.

It often took many years before survivors gained the dignity and safety of a land they could call home. Only then were they able to begin to build a new life.