The shoeshine is a German citizen again.


He lived 65 years without citizenship for being a Jewish

”I am happy and moved because a dream comes true” said Bernardo Jerochim dressed in an impeccable blue suit and wearing a tie that was a gift from one of his clients to whom, everyday and for the last 50 years, he shines his shoes in Buenos Aires downtown. This 78-years old man, who until yesterday had no citizenship from any country, is a German citizen again.

His story comes back to the Nazi Germany when his parents ran away to Argentina along with their ten sons. In 1941, a National Socialist law withdrew the citizenship from all German Jewish living in or outside the country.

The German Ambassador, Mr Rolf Schumacher, delivered the citizenship certificate that soon will become a passport. Member of the whole family accompanied Jerochim. His lawyer, Dr Alejandro Candioti, who helped him with the infinite required documents and members of Raoul Wallenberg Foundation that had also collaborated in the last processes of the struggle, also attended the ceremony.

”I’ve never requested the Argentine citizenship because my father fought five years in the First World War. And if he challenged his life for Germany, I could not have another citizenship”, said Jerochim in Spanish that is still touched by some ”r” of his native language.

His long wish made it impossible for him to get in touch with his childhood, come back to Berlin streets and see his brother Erwin, who died less that one month ago.

”I am very happy that this unfair situation has been corrected”, said the Ambassador. Although after the Nazism there are ”lots of touching stories, full of destroyed hopes, anguishes still alive, this case seems to be taken from a movie”, he added. ”We are aware how Nazism destroyed lives, but everlasting damages still remain alive”.

Now, Bernardo Jerochim only wants to return to the country where he was born. ”I had been invited by the Berlin City Hall several times, but I could not travel because I have no passport”, he said. At last he will be able to travel.

Translation: Cristina Mendez