Once expelled by France, Cohn-Bendit gets French nationality
May. 23, 2015
PARIS (AP) — German Green party politician Daniel Cohn-Bendit has been granted French citizenship nearly a half century after being expelled from France during the May 1968 student uprising.
Once known as the youthful firebrand "Dany the Red," Cohn-Bendit was one of the best-known leaders of the student revolt against President Charles de Gaulle's government.
In an email to friends obtained Saturday by The Associated Press, Cohn-Bendit said Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve had called him a day earlier to pass on the good news.
"Now I'm really me: Especially French but also really German!" he wrote in an email from Florida.
Cohn-Bendit, 70, had told German news agency dpa in April that he planned to seek French citizenship, saying that it would suit "the reality of my life. I'm not just German and not just French."
Cazeneuve's phone call came 47 years and a day after Cohn-Bendit was expelled from France, on May 21, 1968, on grounds of disturbing the peace. The ban on him returning was not officially lifted until a decade later.
The former European Parliament member was born in the southern French town of Montauban in 1945 to German-Jewish parents who had fled the Nazis. His family moved to Germany when he was 13 but he returned to go to university in France.
In a 1988 interview with The Associated Press, Cohn-Bendit said he had not wanted French nationality earlier because France still had a draft and he did not want to serve in the military. Under West German law at that time, Jews whose relatives were persecuted under the Nazis were exempt from the country's mandatory military service.
Cohn-Bendit was often referred to as "Dany the Red" for his left-wing political views and his carrot-colored mop — now increasingly tinged with silver streaks.