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Jews with roots in Lithuania, known as Litvaks, have been active in applying for Lithuanian citizenship after the country a year ago amended the law to make it easier for them to do so, officials said on Thursday.
Lithuanian passport
© DELFI / Šarūnas Mažeika

According to information from the Migration Department, Lithuanian citizenship was restored to a total of 1,131 people in the first half of this year, up from 912 in the second half of 2016 and up from 481 in the first half of 2016.

Evelina Gudzinskaitė, director of the Migration Department, said that most of the people were Litvaks.

"(Citizenship reinstatement) numbers have been rising at a high rate after the Law on Citizenship was changed last year. Most of them are Litvaks from Israel and South Africa. People who have left for the United States have been also active," she told BNS.

The amendments, which took effect in July 2016, make people who left Lithuania during the interwar period and their descendants eligible for Lithuanian citizenship.

The Law on Citizenship Law was amended after the Migration Department and courts had rejected citizenship applications from some Litvaks who failed to provide proof of persecution in Lithuania during the interwar years.

Lithuanian officials estimate that around 200,000 Jews with Lithuanian roots live in Israel and over 70,000 in South Africa.

The Nazis, often assisted by their Lithuanian collaborators, massacred about 90 percent of the Lithuanian pre-war Jewish population of around 208,000 during World War II. Over 800 Lithuanians have been recognized as Righteous Among the Nations for risking their lives to rescue Jews from the genocide.