Today’s NYT has an article featuring Evan Kaufmann, Minnesota-born hockey player who is now on Germany’s national team. While an accelerated trading of citizenships is not uncommon in the world of sports, Kaufmann’s case sticks out because of his family history: His great-grandparents and one grandparent had been murdered by the Nazis.
While representatives of the German Jewish community overwhelmingly welcome the move. In their eyes it re-affirms the role of Jewish citizens as “normal” in all parts of German society.
Representatives of survivor groups are not as unambiguous:
“I have mixed emotions,” said Menachem Z. Rosensaft, a New York lawyer who is the vice president of the American Gathering of Jewish Holocaust Survivors and Their Descendants. “I think everyone has to make his own decisions in this respect. It is clear for Kaufmann that hockey is the most important priority. Just like there are Israelis or other Jews who have settled in Germany out of economic or career convenience, he is doing the same. I do not presume to judge him.”
At the same time, Rosensaft said he felt “a bitter aftertaste and a certain degree of sadness” for Kaufmann. “He has effectively turned his back on the United States and has willingly taken on citizenship to identify henceforth as a German,” Rosensaft said. “That, in terms of his family history, is at best a somber reality. There is a question in my mind whether a Jew should voluntarily go to Germany and take on that role.”
To read the full article click here.
Here’s a clip showing Kaufmann answering some interview questions in German (scene with Kaufmann starts at 3:07min):