Stateless person

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A stateless person is under the Stateless Convention of the United Nations "a person who is not of 28 September 1954 State considered due to its legislation as his family." It is easier to put a stateless person without citizenship , which is protected by any state. In the sense of international law , statelessness - like multiple citizenship - is an anomaly . Statelessness, however, is not contrary to international law, as there are no agreements that prohibit statelessness. The exact number of stateless persons cannot be given, UNHCR speaks of several million worldwide.

In contrast to stateless persons , the term “homeless person ”, which is mentioned for the first time in Grimm's dictionary of 1871, usually describes a more emotional or ideological disorder - see however the term homeless foreigner , the one in the former American and British occupation zones used term corresponds to Displaced Persons .

Some reasons for statelessness

The number of triggers varies in individual representations under constitutional law. Depending on how deeply the individual reasons are broken down, the number is correspondingly higher.

De jure statelessness as a result of a legal conflict

In principle, legal conflicts can arise in any legal area where national laws of several states that are not coordinated with one another collide. In most cases, this has negative consequences. National citizenship law is not immune to such legal conflicts either. Thus there are theoretically as many concepts of citizenship as there are states, but in practice the principle of descent and the principle of birthplace have emerged. These two concepts alone were sufficient to produce countless cases of the purest form of statelessness - de jure statelessness .

Changes in the political structure as a trigger for statelessness

The First World War ended with the defeat of the Central Powers in November 1918. In addition to millions of human casualties, this war also led to the disintegration of the dual monarchy , whose former territory was claimed by seven successor states . The Treaty of Saint-Germain , which regulates citizenship, was not signed until September 10, 1919 and came into force on July 16, 1920. The problems of citizenship law associated with this peace treaty are based on old Austrian homeland law provisions, which ultimately go back to the police regulations of Charles V from 1530.

In the interwar period , millions of Russians, Armenians, Italians, Spaniards, Germans and - after the annexation of Austria - Austrians at some point were on the run. For the first time a “political problem of the first order” ( Hannah Arendt : Elements and origins of total rule, p. 582) became stateless after the October Revolution of 1917 and the civil war that followed . In Soviet Russia , a decree was issued on December 15, 1921, according to which persons who have been abroad for more than five years, persons who traveled abroad after November 7, 1917 without state permission, members of the White Army or who did not register with Soviet missions abroad had lost their citizenship.

Statelessness because of political or religious belief

In the Kingdom of Romania , with provisions of 1864 and 1886, "natives of non-Christian denomination", i.e. H. mainly Romanian Jews , declared foreigners. As a result, these people became stateless because they had neither Romanian nor any other nationality and were henceforth subject to state discrimination.

With the outbreak of World War I, people of German origin living in France were perceived as dangerous. In 1915 it was the first state to make denaturalization, i.e. expatriation, of citizens possible. Austria followed in 1933.

Between 800,000 and 1,400,000 Armenians died in the First World War . The Treaty of Sèvres with the Ottoman Empire , which, among other things, would have provided for an independent area of ​​Turkish Armenia, was signed but no longer implemented due to the dissolution of the Ottoman Empire. The number of those who survived the Ottoman genocide against the Armenians and tried to escape by fleeing is given as 300,000 people. The majority of them ended up in France, others fled to the USA , Canada , the Soviet Union or the Middle East ( Armenian quarter of Jerusalem ). Initially, the Armenians who fled were only qualified as refugees and de facto stateless persons, later they also became de jure stateless persons.

The legal basis for expatriations in the Nazi state was the law on the revocation of naturalizations and the withdrawal of German citizenship of July 14, 1933. On the basis of this law, 359 expatriation lists were published in the German Reichsanzeiger ; a total of 39,006 people had been expatriated by the end of World War II . Another wave of expatriation resulted from the Reich Citizenship Act of 1935, according to which Jews could not be citizens of the Reich. From then on, Jews in Germany had to expect their citizenship to be revoked as soon as they left Germany. In the occupied countries, too, the Nazi regime urged that the citizenship of the Jews be withdrawn before they were deported. The populations in the occupied Eastern European states were basically regarded as foreigners without rights and became the object of Germanizing national politics . The National Socialist state, which, in the course of the Gleichschaltung on February 5, 1934, on the basis of Article 5 of the Law on the Reconstruction of the Reich of January 30, 1934 ( RGBl. I p. 75), revoked the citizenship in the German states and the exclusive Reich citizenship had been introduced as a uniform German citizenship for the whole of the nation state , and from 1935 the Nuremberg Laws also made a distinction between Reich citizens and “mere” (simple) citizens.

An actual mass expatriation in National Socialist Germany did not take place until the 11th ordinance of November 25, 1941 , according to which Jews subsequently lost their German citizenship "when they moved their habitual residence abroad". This affected around 250,000 to 280,000 German Jews who had emigrated and became stateless after their withdrawal. In these cases, the withdrawal of citizenship usually led to statelessness, as a second citizenship was not available. Statelessness, for example, was not the actual purpose of expatriation - which was rather to legally separate emigrated Jews from the German community - but it was an additional consequence. This ordinance also had the purpose of bringing the remainder of their property to the Nazi state when German Jews were to be deported , without having to make a previously customary individual decision: “The property of the Jew who has German citizenship on the basis of this ordinance loses, falls to the Reich with the loss of citizenship. [...] The forfeited property should serve to promote all purposes related to the solution of the Jewish question . ”Inheritance and gifts were also forbidden.

In accordance with the Control Council Act No. 1 on the repeal of Nazi law of September 20, 1945, the 11th ordinance on the Reich Citizenship Act was repealed, but German citizenship was not automatically restored to expatriated persons. Rather had an application for annulment made to the expatriation ex nunc be declared invalid. According to Article 116 of the Basic Law for the Federal Republic of Germany from 1949, those expatriated for racial, religious or political reasons could apply for re-naturalization. It was not until the Federal Constitutional Court ruled on February 14, 1968 that these expatriations were considered null and void " from the start ".

Expatriation as a political weapon in the interwar period

As early as the First World War, national laws were enacted to revoke newly acquired citizenship from former members of enemy states. France started with a law of April 7, 1915. Other European countries followed later: in 1922, Belgium passed a law on the expatriation of citizens with “anti-national” behavior. In 1926, Italy excluded "unworthy" citizens from citizenship. In Austria , the Dollfuss cabinet issued an expatriation ordinance on August 16, 1933 against citizens who “obviously support acts hostile to Austria in whatever way abroad (...)” or “go to a state without an exit permit for which such a permit is prescribed. ”The law was mainly directed against National Socialists , Social Democrats and Communists .

Further examples


During the military dictatorship in Greece from 1967 to 1974 following the Colonel coup , numerous Greeks, mostly opposition, intellectuals and artists, left the country. The military junta withdrew Greek citizenship by decree from those living in exile. The most notable Greek stateless persons were Mikis Theodorakis , Melina Mercouri , Nana Mouskouri , Manolis Anagnostakis and Niki Eideneier-Anastassiadi .

Palestinian Territories

Under the Nationality Law of 1952, Palestinians were granted Israeli citizenship if they had lived in Israel's territory since the founding of Israel in 1948 . Those who lived in the West Bank or Gaza Strip remained stateless because these “temporarily occupied territories” are not part of Israel's national territory. The residents of the West Bank had been Jordanians since 1949, but lost their citizenship again in 1988 when Jordan gave up the West Bank in favor of the PLO . Residents of the autonomous areas receive a Palestinian passport from their authorities , which Israel has recognized since 1995. However, in most western countries, Palestinians from the West Bank and Gaza Strip are considered stateless.

Interpretation of statelessness

For the political scientist Enzo Traverso , who teaches in France, the stateless person is a symbol of the “European crisis” or the Second Thirty Years War 1914–1945. Hannah Arendt , stateless between 1937 and 1951, notes that the Versailles Peace Conference did not take notice of the stateless, although the problem with the First World War had become evident. Rather, the nation-state principle and the national right of peoples to self-determination had fallen into disrepute because only a fraction of the peoples affected were granted national sovereignty . This has led to further oppression for the minorities that have passed over , which has promoted political confrontations and civil war-like unrest in the interwar period. Statelessness has become the “newest phenomenon, the stateless the newest group of people in modern history”, while stateless persons before the First World War were only a “curiosity” for lawyers. They failed because of the “trinity of people-territory-state” on which the nation-states are based. At the same time, with the masses of refugees and stateless persons, the right of asylum intended for individuals has collapsed. It had become evident that, with the loss of citizenship, individuals no longer had an authority to guarantee their human rights, because human rights only existed for nationals, but not for people as such. "The only practical substitute for the territory it lacks" has been "repeatedly the internment camps "; "They are the only patria that the world has to offer the apatrids (= stateless persons)." "Even where a still intact civilization secures their life, politically speaking they are living corpses." Arendt concludes:

“That there is such a thing as a right to have rights - and this is synonymous with living in a relationship system in which one is judged on the basis of actions and opinions - we have only known since millions of people have emerged who have this Have lost right and, according to the new global organization of the world, are unable to regain it. "

In her book Elements and Origins of total rule (first published in German in 1955, paperback in 1986), Arendt writes:

"Denaturalization and withdrawal of citizenship were among the most effective weapons in the international politics of totalitarian governments."

Legal situation of stateless persons in Germany since 2000

Since Germany is obliged under the Statelessness Convention to facilitate the naturalization of stateless persons, an applicant with the current status of the Citizenship Act of 2000 after six years of permanent residence in Germany, e.g. B. naturalize with the presentation of the travel document for stateless persons , which proves sufficient knowledge of the German language and recognizes the free democratic basic order guaranteed by the Basic Law for the Federal Republic of Germany (see naturalization test ), on the condition that the livelihood for the applicant and his dependents Family members without social assistance or unemployment benefit II can be denied.

According to the Implementing Act of the Convention for the Reduction of Statelessness of August 30, 1961, which entered into force on December 13, 1975, children of stateless persons have, however , an additional right to naturalization if they were born in the territory of the Federal Republic of Germany for the past five years Have been lawfully residing in Germany for years, apply before the age of 21 and have not been sentenced to a prison sentence or a youth sentence of five years or more. The otherwise necessary requirements under the Nationality Act do not need to be met for this naturalization. The UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, ratified by Germany in 1992 and unreservedly recognized since 2010, also codifies a child's right to acquire citizenship in Article 7.

According to the law on the acquisition and loss of nationality and citizenship (of the North German Confederation ) of June 1, 1870, statelessness could occur after a long stay abroad; this provision was repealed by the Reich and Citizenship Act of 1913.

See also


  • Giorgio Agamben : Homo sacer . The sovereign power and the bare life. Suhrkamp, ​​Frankfurt 2007.
  • Hannah Arendt : The decline of the nation state and the end of human rights. In: Hannah Arendt: Elements and origins of total domination. Anti-Semitism, imperialism, total rule , Piper, Munich 2001, pp. 559–625.
  • Gerda Heck: "Illegal immigration." A contested construction in Germany and the USA. Edition DISS Volume 17. Münster 2008, ISBN 978-3-89771-746-6 ( Interview heise online November 10, 2008)
  • Tillmann Löhr: Protection instead of defense. For a Europe of asylum . Wagenbach, Berlin 2010, ISBN 978-3-8031-2628-3 .
  • Michael R. Marrus : The Unwanted. The unwanted. European refugees in the 20th century . Association A, Berlin 1999.
  • B. Traven: The death ship. The story of an American sailor . Hamburg 1980.
  • Enzo Traverso: À feu et à sang. De la guerre civile européenne 1914–1945 . Paris 2007, German: Under the spell of violence. The European Civil War 1914–1945. Siedler, Munich 2008, ISBN 3-88680-885-8 .
  • Martin Stiller: A History of Statelessness under International Law. Shown using selected examples from Europe, Russia and the USA. Springer, Vienna 2011, ISBN 978-3-7046-6223-1 .
  • Manuela Sissy Kraus: Human Rights Aspects of Statelessness . BWV Verlag, Berlin 2013, ISBN 978-3-8305-3157-9 (also Diss. Univ. Potsdam, 2012).

Web links

Commons : Stateless  - Collection of pictures, videos, and audio files
Wiktionary: Stateless person  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations

Individual evidence

  1. Convention on the Status of Stateless Persons , in:
  2. Martin Stiller: A history of international law of statelessness. Springer, Vienna 2011, p. 27 and 39.
  3. ^ UNHCR: Ending Statelessness
  4. Martin Stiller: A history of international law of statelessness. Pp. 53-54.
  5. Martin Stiller: A history of international law of statelessness. Pp. 58-62.
  6. Original French: aborigènes de confession non-chrétienne
  7. Michael Hepp (Ed.): The expatriation of German citizens 1933–45 according to the lists published in the Reichsanzeiger (PDF; 20 kB) (=  Expatriation Lists as Published in the “Reichsanzeiger” 1933–45 ). 3 volumes, Saur, Munich [u. a.] 1985–1988, ISBN 3-598-10537-1 .
  8. H. Arendt points to a new draft of the "Law on the Revocation of Naturalizations and the Deprivation of German Citizenship" from 1938, which was prevented by the beginning of the war. It had included that “foreign blooded” or “persons of non-German or non-related blood” cannot be German citizens. Foundling children are expressly regarded as stateless until “their racial classification can be checked”. This planned law shows what the National Socialists were about: "Everyone is by nature without rights, namely stateless, unless otherwise decided." (Hannah Arendt (2001), p. 598 f., Note 40)
  9. Eugen Ehmann, Helmut Weidelener, Heinz Stark: German citizenship law. Collection of rules with an explanatory introduction , Jehle, 8th edition 2010, p. 27 f.
  10. RGBl. I 1941, p. 723 .
  11. Art. 116 GG: Former German citizens, whose citizenship was revoked between January 30, 1933 and May 8, 1945 for political, racial or religious reasons, and their descendants are to be naturalized again on application.
  12. Martin Stiller: A history of international law of statelessness. Pp. 87-88.
  13. BVerfGE 23, 98.
  14. ^ Loi authorisant le Gouvernement à rapporter les décrets de naturalisatoin obtenus par d'anciens sujets de puissance en guerre avec la France
  15. ^ Giorgio Agamben: Inclusion and exclusion in the nation state. (No longer available online.) Archived from the original on December 2, 2016 ; accessed on February 18, 2018 .
  16. Martin Stiller: A history of international law of statelessness. Pp. 79, 82-84.
  17. ^ The Greek Trauma , Süddeutsche Zeitung, April 21, 2007.
  18. Georg Dahm, Jost Delbrück, Rüdiger Wolfrum: Völkerrecht , Vol. I / 2. Walter de Gruyter, Berlin 1989, ISBN 3-89949-024-X , p. 34
  19. Enzo Traverso (2007), pp. 156, 162.
  20. ^ Hannah Arendt (2001), p. 562.
  21. Hannah Arendt (2001), p. 570.
  22. Hannah Arendt (2001), p. 578.
  23. Hannah Arendt (2001), p. 580.
  24. Hannah Arendt (2001), p. 560.
  25. Hannah Arendt (2001), p. 583.
  26. Hannah Arendt and the right to have rights (PDF; 159 kB).
  27. Hannah Arendt (2001), p. 594.
  28. Hannah Arendt (2001), p. 613 f.
  29. Hannah Arendt (2001), p. 614.
  30. Hannah Arendt (1986), p. 614.
  31. See the brochure of the Federal Government Commissioner for Migration, Refugees and Integration from April 2005: How do I become German? (PDF; 516 kB).
  32. Statelessness Reduction Act
  33. Cf. How do I become a German? ( Memento from January 31, 2012 in the Internet Archive ) (PDF; 516 kB), p. 44.
  34. Der Große Brockhaus 1957, eleventh volume, p. 140.