'My Home's Here': Germany's British Veterans On Life After Brexit

The former British military community makes up a large part of the around 120,000 British citizens who have settled in Germany.

We asked those in the heart of Paderborn's Sennelager district what they think of Brexit.

Little England is a corner shop in Sennelager district where the shelves are stacked with iconic British brands normally not available in Germany.

The owner is Monica Eichler, whose father served with the British Forces and made Germany their home.

"A lot of [British expats] are worried about their future," she said.

"I’ve been brought up in the Army life. Living abroad is normal, and now, all of a sudden, it’s not normal."

Monica said nearly all her ex-military customers are now dual British-German nationals.

Steven Moore was in the Royal Artillery in Germany during the 1970s.

He married a German woman, became a dual citizen and decided to stay.

"My home’s here now, it doesn’t matter what happens, my home’s here," he says.

Former Royal Artillery member John Parslow told Forces News "people are taking out dual [citizenship] because they don’t know what’s happening".

Between 2016 and 2018, 17,000 British citizens obtained German passports.

Dual citizenship applications increased sharply in 2019, with some estimates suggesting a third of the country's British population became German citizens.

"One or two are still quite panicky as to what’s going to happen on Friday," said former Royal Engineer, Phil Klinkenberg.

"Whether they should really stay in Germany or even though they have gone through the whole rigmarole of getting German citizenship to go back to the UK.

"At least one of them is thinking about [going back to the UK].

"Difficult decision. Sad time."

Union Flag logo of Little England shop behind tree

However, not all Little England’s customers are nervous.

Former member of the Royal Horse Artillery Paul Jackson settled in Germany, but he backs Brexit.

"Wait and see," he says.

"I think after 40 years they can’t really throw me out," he told Forces News with a laugh.

One-time Royal Air Force man John Vine is another staunch Brexit supporter, but he also enjoys living in Germany.

"We did make a concession in that my wife took out German citizenship so that I could be in a position if necessary, to have my Mr Kipling and eat it," he said.

"I’ll even be called a hypocrite, if necessary, but ever since I had my first passport I believed that a British passport holder should and can go anywhere in the world provided that I do it in a lawful fashion.

"That’s been my belief and that’s going to continue."

What is not guaranteed to continue is Little England itself as in the future the shop may purchase its good from EU member, the Republic of Ireland.

"I will pre-order my stock and get a transport company to pick up my stock," Monica says.

"It will be cheaper that way than having to buy my stock in the UK, get that transported back, have all the paperwork, all the import tax.

"There’s going to be so many costs on it that it’s going to double the prices and I can’t afford that."

An 11-month transition period now follows Britain's departure from the EU on Friday 31 January.

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