Before 01.01.1975, children born in wedlock could not derive German citizenship through their mothers. That meant that those children only became German if their fathers were also German citizens. The law was changed by 01.01.1975 and since then, either parent must be German in order for children born in wedlock to be German by birth.
At the same time, an offer was made to children of German mothers who were born before 31.12.1974 and who had thus not become German citizens. They could declare their willingness to be German - the deadline was 3 years.
How Was the Declaration Given?
The German Missions sent ample information to the German community in South Africa and gave the necessary notice for example to the German churches, German schools, companies and launched adds in South African newspapers. The declaration could be given until 1978 and those that did so were given a certificate of declaration. This certificate is the basis of their German citizenship and still serves as proof.
Missed the Deadline?
The option to declare existed for 3 years, meaning that it was possible to do so until 1978. Whoever missed this deadline could not declare later. There was only a remote possibility of applying for naturalisation.
Since 20.08.2021 children born after 23.05.1945 and before 01.01.1975 in these cases can now make use of the possibility to acquire German citizenship by declaration. Please find more Information here
Read here about the different ways of becoming a German citizen automatically.
You wish to establish the fact that you are German? Or you need to apply for a certificate confirming and proving that you are a German citizen? Read here about what a certificate of Citizenship is and how to apply.
One may lose German citizenship.
Read about the reasons for loss of citizenship and how you can avoid it.
In general, applying for and obtaining a foreign citizenship results in the loss of German citizenship. In order to avoid this, you can apply for a letter of retention before becoming naturalised abroad.
You are not a German citizen automatically but wish to become German?
Almost always, naturalisation requires the candidate to be residing in Germany. Naturalisation from abroad is possible in only a very few exceptional cases, about which you can read here.