An anti-government terrorist network inspired by right-wing extremism has been swept up in a widescale sting operation across Germany and even stretching to Austria and Italy.
So far 25 people have been arrested, but it’s suspected that the group may have been constituted of at least 50 members.
According to the BBC, the group was divided into a military and political arm, it seems, with some of the plotters retired or active members of the Bundeswehr.
They had designs to attack specific democratic institutions.
At the head of the group is a 71-year-old low-level aristocrat known as Heinrich XIII, who hails from the House of Reuss, which still holds some castles around the country, but has no real state power.
Evidently the black sheep of the clan for his tendency to become enveloped in baseless conspiracy theories and to espouse ludicrous beliefs, Heinrich apparently organized operations from a hunting lodge he maintained in Thuringia.
The Reichsbürger movement has been of concern to German authorities for quite some time now.
It’s estimated to include more than 20,000 people, and adherents overlap with QAnon believers and tend to promote gun ownership.
At times they will refuse to pay taxes and will even declare their own territories, raising their own flags over claimed areas, yet they will use the legal system when it suits them as well, filing lawsuits to exert their perceived rights and perhaps exhaust government resources.
Reichsbürger translates to “people of the reich” or realm.
Followers hold that the current government is illegitimate, that the Weimar constitution of 1919 is still in effect, and that the Second Reich of 1871 should be restored.
Only a small percentage – perhaps 5% – are considered extreme in the vein of those arrested today, but that’s certainly enough to cause tremendous damage.
In 2016, a Reichsbürger believer shot and killed a Bavarian police officer, and a 2020 shooting in Hanau that then-Chancellor Angela Merkel said was performed by a “right-wing extremist” aligning with such beliefs resulted in nine deaths.
German police thwarted a coup by right wing terrorists in Germany (Reichsbürger. They stormed several facilities and arrested 25 person. One of the alleged terrorist leaders is Heinrich XIII Prinz Reuß who contacted the Russian government. Results are unknown. #Russia #Germany
— (((Tendar))) (@Tendar) December 7, 2022
The plans the group had were to be executed on what was referred to as “Day X.”
All of it is very reminiscent of the Nazi Beer Hall Putsch of 1923.
That failed, but it was a sign of an underlying movement that would eventually engulf Germany and the world.
While it is premature to think that the Reichsbürger movement will ever grow to the size and threat of the Nazis, the trend in Germany and elsewhere with extremist hate groups is nonetheless concerning.
Right-wing extremism is sweeping over parts of Europe, with hardline groups winning victories or significant representation in Italy, Sweden, France, and elsewhere.
We’ve also seen the growth of far-right extremist thought in the United States, and all of the dangers it has wrought, including the January 6 attacks.
There was a Right Wing Plot in Germany to assault the government buildings and install an unqualified Trust Fund Baby as their Head of State. Sounds exactly like the @gop’s January 6th terrorists. pic.twitter.com/7v21JGEAmc
— Sgt Joker (@TheSGTJoker) December 7, 2022
Added to this is a concerning growth of antisemitism here in the US and all around the globe.
Over 3,000 German police and other authorities were involved in the terrorist sweep and it’s very possible the list of those arrested will grow.