Re: Affirming My Belgian Heritage

Regine Brindle

hello Roger,

First of all, my apologies, the Bruges link was the wrong one.  I thought i had removed it before sending yesterday.

It might be easier to just paste what Yvon said.
citizenship is complicated because the laws change all the time.

Your grandmother gained us citizenship when your grandfather was naturalized. The same with all the children in the household regardless of where they were born.  In Yvon's perspective, it seems to mean 'losing the Belgian citizenship'
If your grandfather signed a paper renouncing allegiance to the king and to Belgium, he was not allowed to have a dual citizenship.
The children may have had a choice until the age of 18.
Today people can pay extra and have a dual citizenship but it's been so on and off that it is really hard to know who qualifies and who does not unless they have the full paperwork before them.  That may be why the embassy is asking you for all these papers.

When I was naturalized (1987) I lost my Belgian citizenship.  My children were not Belgian, while I was not naturalized, nor did they have the option of becoming Belgians. 
Your father's name does not appear on the POW site.  Knowing he used a US passport indicates he made the choice to remain us citizen in spite of the divorce.  I am not sure that your grandmother's status is the one they would use for the children of a divorced marriage.
In certain countries the nationality follows the parents'.
In France in the early 20th century it appears, children born of Belgian parents in France, retained the Belgian citizenship.  It gets confusing for sure...
In the US, as you said, citizenship of children is automatically US, regardless of the parents' citizenship status.

However... the importance of the POW file is that it will determine whether he was taken prisoner as a Belgian or an American.
The Germans likely did not realize he was not Belgian by birth.  do you have access to that file?

Here is Yvon's questions/explanations

Bonjour Régine
J'ai encore bien étudié le cas
I have studied this carefully

1. Né au USA, son papa est américain de naissance et avait la double nationalité à la naissance
cette nationalité devient définitive en 1933 (loi de 1920)

Born in the US his dad is American by birth and had dual citizenship at birth.  This citizenship becomes permanent in 1933 (1920 law)

2. Son grand père devient citoyen US mi 1928.
suite la convention belgo USA de 1868 le grand père perd automatiquement la belge
ce jour là, par effet collectif son le devient aussi et logiquement perd la nationalité belge
J'ignore pour la grand-maman ....
Donc lors du divorce , logiquement son papa est citoyen US uniquement

his grandfather became a us citizen in mid 1928.
Due to the Belgian-American convention on 1868, the grandfather automatically loses his Belgian citizenship.
That day, by collective effect his son also becomes US citizen and logically loses the Belgian citizenship as well.
I am not sure about the grandmother... So at the time of the divorce his dad was solely a US citizen.

3. Il y a le retour en Belgique et là cela devient incompréhensible ..... sauf si la maman a caché que elle et son enfant sont devenus citoyen US
En 1942, suite à l'entrée en guerre des USA ... tous les citoyens US en Belgique ont été arrêtés en mis dans des camps.
Son père et sa grand mère n'ont pas été inquiétés 
Donc si ils se sont fait passer pour des belges, il doit y avoir des traces dans les archives de l'administration

at the return to Belgium, and this only can be explained if the mother hid that she and her child were US citizens.
In 1942 after the US entered war, all US citizens in belgium were arrested and put in camps.
his father and grandmother were not bothered.
So they must have ''passed' for Belgians and there should be a record of them in the local administration
(my note: do you have a record of the Population register for that period?  He would have been registered on them, even if it was listed as grandchild, living with family. his birth would be recorded on there as well)

1. qu'est devenu la grand-mère en Belgique .... IMPORTANT

what became of your grandmother in Belgium?

2. son papa a-t-il été inscrit sur les liste de la milice vers 1942?

Was your father registered on the militia list in 1942?
(my note: Hmmm...  he would surely have been too young, but i don't know about Belgium)

3. quand il y a eu le procès qui a mené son papa en déportation, a-t-on fait mention de sa nationalité américaine? Son père a-t-il eu une pension de prisonnier de guerre?

When the trial took place prior to your fathers deportation to camp, was there mention of his nationality?  Did your father claim a POw pension?

4. quand il est parti de Belgique ( c'est cela que l'ambassade veut savoir) en 1948, il a voyagé avec un passeport US ou belge

When he left Belgium in 1948 did he have a Belgian or US passport
(my note: you answered that already in your email - US passport so he claimed US citizenship)

5. sur les passenger's lists de l'époque quelle nationalité il est mentionné sur les livres de bord

On the passengers list what nationality is mentioned?
(my note: answered with above I would say)

6. Par après .... son papa n'a jamais été inquiété pour son service militaire obligatoire en Belgique ..... ce dossier, on doit le retrouver !!!

Later, was your father ever contacted to do his obligatory military service in Belgium ---  Must find

I think Yvon is worried your quest may be for naught


On Thursday, February 4, 2021, 12:09:57 PM EST, Roger Gallet <r_gallet@...> wrote:


Thank you for continuing to work with me on my project!  I will try to answer your friend Yvon's questions as best I can.  His questions center around the sequence and timing of events pertaining to my grandfather's naturalization and my father's birth, his return to Belgium, and his citizenship status.  

My grandparents (Julien Gallet and Julia Lambert), both Belgian citizens by birth in Belgium, emigrated to the U.S. in 1922.  They settled in Chicago, Illinois.

My father (Arthur Gallet) was born in Chicago on January 15, 1928.  His birth in the U.S made him a U.S. citizen. 

My grandfather achieved naturalization as a U.S citizen on June 29, 1928 -- 5 months AFTER my father's birth.  My grandfather was still a Belgian citizen at the time of my father's birth, so Belgian citizenship also applied to my father; he must have carried dual citizenship.  My grandmother was never naturalized as a U.S. citizen.

My grandparents divorced, and subsequently, in December 1934 (just shy of my father's 7th birthday) my father went with my grandmother to live in Brugge, Belgium.  My father, now living in Belgium, was a U.S. citizen by birth in the U.S. and a Belgian citizen by birth to a Belgian father.  That may answer the question of why the Germans didn't deport him.  Either that or they never found out he was also American.

After my father's ordeal as a political prisoner and his liberation and release from prison, he decided to return to the U.S. to live.  He returned to Chicago, Illinois in the summer of 1946, and reunited with his father (Julien Gallet).  Without question my father's citizenship status was as a U.S. citizen when he returned to the States.  I have in my possession his actual United States passport, issued by the American Consulate General in Antwerp on May 29, 1946.  This passport had an expiration date of November 29, 1946 and was only valid for travel in "necessary countries en route to the United States from Belgium".  He traveled on a Swedish American Line ship (I don't know the name of the ship) from Gothenburg, arriving in New York on July 1, 1946.

As far as the link you provided to the V.O.PG.V website, I was already familiar with that, as it was also given to me by the daughter of one of my father's fellow political prisoners.  As for the other links, they unfortunately did not work out too well for me.

Finally, I still look forward to becoming an official member of The Belgian Researchers as soon as you receive my elusive check in the mail.

Roger Gallet             

From: <> on behalf of Regine Brindle via <babette602001@...>
Sent: Wednesday, February 3, 2021 6:57 AM
To: <>
Subject: Re: [thebelgianresearchers] Affirming My Belgian Heritage
Hello Roger,

I heard back from my friend Yvon.  He has a lot of questions and explains why the embassy would not be much help.

He sent me a link to this page.
WOW, what a terrific story!

He feels your answer should be found in his POW file.
Do you have this?

My grandfather was a Belgian POW during WWII and i was able to get a copy of this file without any trouble.

I also noticed that there was a reference on your father's obit site that his parents divorced.

The questions Yvon raises have to do with timing and the way things done back then.

As I am studying the Women's Suffrage question right now, I learned that US born women who married unnaturalized aliens lost their US citizenship.
The first thing the League of women Voters went to work on after the 19th Amendment was ratified (1920), was to ensure this would no longer be the case.
I am not sure exactly when this took place but before 1928.
So his question was whether or not your grandfather's naturalization occurred before the return to Belgium.
Were they considered Belgians or US citizens?
The Germans automatically deported the Americans, he says.
Since Arthur went to school in Bruges, it would seem they were not deported.

How did he return to the US? As an American citizen?

Yvon says the embassies can not do this search for people.

So...  I would check with Bruges to see if there was a record of a passport application there.
I believe the link Mieke shared last week would be a good place to start.

There is a list online but I could not find Arthur Galler.

Looking forward to hearing the story from you and yes we would love to place a summary of this account in our newsletter if you are so inclined to share.


On Monday, February 1, 2021, 2:55:34 PM EST, Roger Gallet <r_gallet@...> wrote:

Regine and Mieke,

Thank you both very much for all the information you provided; it was much more than I expected!  Thanks especially for my grandparents birth and marriage records.  They are among those requested by the Belgian Consulate, so that my Belgian citizenship can be officially registered.

One more document that I need is any Belgian document, such as a passport or other type of identification document, for my grandfather.  Any ideas on how to obtain something like that?

Best Regards,
Roger Gallet 

Join to automatically receive all group messages.