Hermann Ringel’s citizenship status

Rzeszow domicile document obtained by Hermann Ringel

Now let’s take a step back and look at the citizenship question for the Ringel family members in Berlin. Schija and Feigel were not German citizens but permanent residents from the neighboring state of Austria-Hungary. Baby Hermann had a slightly different status since he was born on German soil but of non-citizen parents. At this time, the relevant citizenship law was that of the State of Brandenburg, of which Berlin was a part. (The confederated German states honored each others’ laws but there was not a federal citizenship law until 1913, the same law that with amendments remains in effect today.) 

I have not yet determined the Brandenburg law governing Hermann’s circumstances, but his later actions suggest it allowed for a native-born child of alien parents to obtain German citizenship upon reaching the age of majority. Such a child would have lived continuously in Germany since birth and would become eligible for citizenship at the age of twenty-one.

Since my mother’s death in 2005, I have had in my possession precious original documents including Hermann Ringel’s birth and death certificate, Feigel Kaufler’s death certificate and Helga Ringel’s birth certificate. I studied them during earlier phases of my research but only now have realized that two of them were not from the original dates but were copies obtained by my family members at a later date. 

To be specific, Hermann’s birth certificate documents his 1885 birth and includes a handwritten update about the parents’ 1888 marriage, but the copy of it that I have was actually issued in December 1906. Similarly, the copy of Helga’s 1924 birth certificate that I have was actually issued in 1936.