Izzat Hayat is taken aback at an alleged coup attempt in
Germany is rated as one of the most solidly based democracies in Western Europe. Since end of the Second World the western part of Surprising German coup attempt busted adopted democratic form of governance with alacrity though its eastern part remained a dictatorship as it was a satellite of the Soviet Union. After the fall of the USSR, East Germany reunified with West Germany and the country became Germany as it was before the end of Second World War. Throughout these years however democracy strengthened in German political milieu and its democratic credentials were globally recognised as firmly based and fully established. Many outstanding political figures headed the democratic political dispensations with three major political parties gaining country-wide currency. German democracy was widely accepted for electing highly acceptable political heads who remained at the helm of affairs for far longer periods than their contemporaries governing in Westminster pattern of democratic governance. In recent past two chancellors of Germany stayed in their posts for more than a decade gaining widespread approbation as sagacious politicos.
Viewed in this backdrop it was indeed extremely surprising when the very damaging reports emerged that 25 people were arrested in raids across Germany on suspicion of overthrowing the government. It was reported that a German far-right group busted for plotting to topple the government was heavily armed and posed a real threat and those arrested were labeled as a dangerous mix of people with irrational convictions, some with a lot of money and others in possession of weapons. It was described that the conspirators had put in place a plan that they also intended to carry out and since it makes their plans dangerous therefore it was considered essential for the authorities to intervene. Weapons were found in 50 of the locations searched including crossbows, rifles, and ammunition. Fifty-four people are under investigation for links to the group, which prosecutors say was planning to overthrow the German state and install its own government. The arrested people include an ex-MP, former soldiers, and aristocrat and businessman Prince Heinrich XIII Reuss who was reportedly earmarked to be Germany’s new leader after the coup.
Along with this it was pointed out that the authorities did not expect that a group with a few dozen members, maybe a hundred, is able to really challenge the state system in Germany. It was also mentioned that more arrests are likely to be made and for this many people have been identified whose status in relation to this group is not exactly known. It was pointed out that the group is thought to be made up of supporters of the “Citizens of the Reich” (Reichsbuerger), an ideological movement in Germany that encompasses far-right extremists, conspiracy theorists and gun enthusiasts. The Reichsbuerger generally believe in the continued existence of the pre-World War I German Reich under a monarchy and several groups declared their own states. The group planning the plot had been under surveillance and the security officials stated that this is the first time a nationwide network has been set up with very concrete plans. There are around 21,000 Reichsbuerger in Germany, around 10 per cent of whom are considered likely to use violence. The group of far-right and ex-military figures are said to have prepared for a Day X to storm the Reichstag parliament building and seize power.
It is now mentioned that the Reichsbürger group is not new but this audacious plot indicates increased commitment and radicalisation which could go hand-in-hand with the growth of pandemic disinformation online. An estimated 50 men and women are said to have been part of the group, which allegedly plotted to overthrow the republic and replace it with a new state modeled on the Germany of 1871 – an empire called the Second Reich. These dawn raids are being described as one of the biggest anti-extremism operations in modern German history. Three thousand officers took part in 150 operations in 11 of Germany’s 16 states with two people arrested in Austria and Italy. Almost half of arrests took place in southern states of Baden-Württemberg and Bavaria. More than one in five Reichsbürger are thought to be based in the south-western state of Baden-Württemberg alone. It was mentioned that the group had been plotting a violent coup since November 2021 and members of its central “Rat” (council) had since held regular meetings. They had already established plans to rule Germany with departments covering health, justice and foreign affairs. Members understood they could only realise their goals by military means and violence against state representatives that included carrying out killings.
Investigators are thought to have got wind of the group when they uncovered a kidnap plot last April involving a gang who called themselves United Patriots. They too were part of the Reichsbürger scene and had allegedly planned abducting German health minister while also creating civil war conditions to bring about an end to Germany’s democracy. A former far-right AfD member of the lower house of parliament, the Bundestag, is suspected of being part of the plot and of being lined up as the group’s justice minister. 71-year-old Heinrich XIII is pointed out to be its leader who styles himself as a prince and comes from an old noble family known as the House of Reuss that ruled over parts of the modern eastern state of Thuringia until 1918. Descendants still own a few castles and Heinrich himself is said to have a hunting lodge at Bad Lobenstein in Thuringia.
It was further mentioned that as well as forming a shadow government, the plotters allegedly had plans for a military arm run by a second ringleader identified as Rüdiger von P. They were made up of active and former members of the military and included ex-elite soldiers from special units. The aim of the military arm was to eliminate democratic bodies at local level and for this purpose Rüdiger von P is suspected of trying to recruit police officers in northern Germany and of having an eye on army barracks too. Bases in the states of Hesse, Baden-Württemberg and Bavaria were all inspected for possible use after the government was overthrown. One of those under investigation had been a member of the Special Commando Forces and police searched his home and another suspect has been identified as Vitalia B, a Russian woman who was asked to approach Moscow on Heinrich’s behalf. The Russian embassy in Berlin said in a statement that it did not maintain contacts with representatives of terrorist groups and other illegal entities.
Several violent attacks have been linked to Germany’s far-right in recent years. In 2020, a 43-year-old man shot dead nine people of foreign origin in the western town of Hanau, and a Reichsbürger member was jailed for killing a policeman in 2016. The Reichsbürger were, for years, a source of national derision dismissed as crackpots but they are increasingly a source of concern for the security services who say they are becoming more radical and more dangerous. Members do not recognise the post-war German state and reject the authority of its government. Some print their own currency and identity cards and dream of creating their own autonomous state. Earlier this year a group calling itself the Königreich Deutschland (Kingdom Germany) bought two pieces of land in Saxony upon which they intended to create their own self-administered state. Others refuse to pay tax or intentionally clog up the administration of local authorities by sending large volumes of, often abusive, letters with many of them possessing legal and illegal arms. TW