Having only briefly touched upon the range of documents which prove Polish citizenship through ancestry in previous posts on obtaining Polish citizenship by right of blood and claiming Polish citizenship by descent on the basis of an ancestor who fought in the Polish army under British command, I set myself the task of interviewing a Polish Citizenship Specialist who can shed more light on these documents and Polish citizenship law in general.
It was by chance that I came across Michał Petrus speaking about claiming Polish citizenship by descent on a live podcast stream on Youtube. Michał is a genealogy enthusiast who’s been dealing with the issue of confirming Polish citizenship by descent since 2019. He represents Your Roots in Poland, a genealogical and citizenship company based in Kraków.
Before we speak about all the documents which prove Polish citizenship through ancestry, can you tell my readers a little bit about yourself?
Let’s talk a little about vital records, such as birth certificates. Vital records can’t be used as a basis to claim a Polish citizenship certificate because Polish citizenship law revolves around “right of blood” (Jus sanguinis), and not “right of soil”. Do applicants still have to locate and order their ancestor’s birth, marriage and death certificates for the sake of their application?
Are many of your clients refused Polish citizenship due to issues with their ancestors being born out of wedlock? Go into how the major Acts on Citizenship of the Polish State in 1920, 1951 and 1962 changed the landscape surrounding the importance of one being born in wedlock.
Bonus 1 – Michał Petrus guesting on the Kult America Podcast
Check out part of an interview Michał gave to the Kult America Podcast where he speaks about why children born out of wedlock couldn’t get Polish citizenship by descent
Bonus 2 – Case studies which explain Polish citizenship laws pertaining to children born in and out of wedlock
Case study 1:
A client’s paternal grandfather was born in 1904 but left Poland in 1938. No wedlock check for him. A wedlock check is necessary for the client’s father – because the father was born in 1940 (pre-1951). A wedlock check is also necessary for the client, as the client was born in 1965 (post-1962).
Case study 2:
A client’s maternal Grandfather was born in 1922 but left Poland in 1928. A wedlock check is necessary for him as he left Poland as a minor. Therefore, we need to turn to the client’s great-grandfather to prove citizenship. A wedlock check for the mother is not necessary, as the mother was born in 1960 (between 1951-1962). Moreover, a wedlock check is not necessary for the client, as you don’t have to prove maternity in Polish law. This stems from Roman civic law and is part of the legal tradition in Poland.
The most valuable documents which prove Polish descent are an ancestor’s passport or ID document. Presumably, not many of your clients have had the fortune of possessing a pre-World War Two passport or ID document?
* Post-war passport files are held entirely by the Institute of National Remembrance. Immigration and emigration were closely monitored by the communist government.
Can you talk about some of the other administrative records, common ones or not, which can help people verify their Polish citizenship status?
There’s another document called the Karta Rejestracyjna Reemigracyjna, or Re-emigration Registration Card. Even though it functioned as a one-way travel document, permitting Polish citizens to re-enter their motherland, is it deemed by the Polish authorities as a 100% legitimate passport?
Searching for documents which prove Polish citizenship through ancestry inevitably leads you to general register offices, church archives, state archives, regional archives and military archives. Describe your experience in these various types of archives. Is one type of archive notoriously trickier to navigate than all the others?
As a British person with a Polish grandfather who fought for the Polish Army under British command, I recall having to do three things to get my Polish Citizenship confirmed. First of all, I had to get a letter from the Polish Historical Disclosures section at RAF Northolt stating that my grandfather had never served in the British Armed Forces and that he had served in the Polish Forces under British command. Secondly, I had to obtain a copy of my grandfather’s book of military records (Zeszyt ewidencyjny). Finally, I had to write to the National Archives in Kew, London, to request a “Letter of no evidence” – a document stating that my grandfather did not acquire British citizenship.
Apart from some sloppiness on the part of the National Archives, everything went quite smoothly. Can you share your experience with helping British people to apply for Polish citizenship if they had Polish relatives who fought in the Second World War? I’m particularly interested in cases where army records have been very hard to come by.
Have you had many cases where you’ve had to gather paperwork pertaining to Poles who lived in either the German, Austrian or Russian Empire prior to 1920?
There’s a plethora of documents out there which can verify your Polish citizenship status
This 30-minute interview with Mr Petrus opened my eyes to the sheer range of documents those with Polish roots can submit to the authorities in an attempt to verify their Polish citizenship status. Frankly, Mr Petrus only just scratched the surface when it comes to documents which prove Polish citizenship through ancestry. Feasibly, we could have gone on to talk about many other documents, such as property records, domicile records and military medal records, such as The War Order of Virtuti Militari. Another time perhaps.