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German passports for war children

German troops in Paris, 1 Jan 1940
The German occupation during World War II left deep scars in France

Germany says it will ease the granting of citizenship to "war children" fathered by German soldiers in occupied France during World War II.

The applicants, who are now in their 60s, will be eligible for dual nationality. Many of them have suffered discrimination in France for decades.

The German interior ministry said their applications would be handled "generously" and there would be no fee.

Researchers estimate that about 200,000 French nationals are "war children".

Applications for German passports will still be treated on a case-by-case basis.

After the 1940-44 Nazi occupation, the children were often labelled "bastards of the Boche" and ostracised by their local communities. Their plight was largely ignored by both countries.

The German government's statement on Thursday followed lengthy Franco-German diplomacy on the issue.

The head of the French National Association of War Children (ANEG), Jeanine Nivoix-Sevestre, said the German move was "superb".

"Those who have managed to retrace their family want to get German citizenship," she told the AFP news agency.

Since August 2007 EU citizens applying for German citizenship have not had to give up their existing nationality as a matter of course any more.

Children with a German and a foreign parent normally acquire both nationalities at birth.

The German foreign ministry said it welcomed a French proposal to set up a commission to reassess the plight of French "war children".

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