Germany thwarts far-right plot to storm Parliament

25 members of the extremist group “Citizens of the Reich” who were preparing a coup inspired by the assault on the Capitol in 2021 were arrested

This is the largest police operation in years against the extreme right . Twenty-five people, including an aristocrat, several retired soldiers and a former deputy from the xenophobic Alternative for Germany (AfD) party , were arrested early Wednesday morning on suspicion of planning a terrorist attack to overthrow the German state and impose a new government.

More than 3,000 agents participated in this macro -operation that was carried out simultaneously in eleven of the 16 federal States and whose objective, according to the German Prosecutor’s Office, were 52 people belonging to the groups called Citizens of the Reich (Reichsbürger, in German).– a far-right movement that does not recognize the sovereignty of the current Germany, nor its Government nor its laws – and Qanon , all of them defenders of conspiracy theories. Shortly afterwards, the German Minister of the Interior, Nancy Fäser , referred to this operation as a “chasm in the terrorist threat” and added that “our rule of law is strong and we know how to defend ourselves with all our might against the enemies of democracy.” ”.

According to the Prosecutor’s Office, of those detained, 22 were arrested on suspicion of “membership of a terrorist organization” and the other three, including a Russian citizen, accused of supporting the organization. In addition, and along with the arrests on German soil, prosecutors reported that one person was arrested in the Austrian city of Kitzbühel and another in Perugia (Italy).Among them, and identified as one of the ringleaders, is the 71-year-old aristocrat Heinrich XIII , a descendant of the noble Reuß family, who had been active on the Reichsbürger scene for a long time and who, according to the plans of this group, was destined to be the new “head of state.” Next to him, the former parachute commander Rüdiger von P. , who was to lead the military arm of the association.

According to German media, at the end of November last year, the two met to found a “terrorist organization with the aim of overthrowing the existing state order in Germany . ” For this purpose they brought together like-minded people from the Reich Citizens scene as well as crown deniers.

Likewise, and in search of followers, they approached active or former members of the “Bundeswehr” (federal army) and the Police, who should be organized into “national security companies.” For this purpose, several secret meetings were held, four of them last summer in Baden-Württemberg led by Rüdiger von P. and in October the “military arm” explored the “Bundeswehr” barracks in Hesse, Baden-Württemberg and Bavaria to see if the “troops” could stay there after a hypothetical coup.

The federal prosecutor said that the defendants “accepted with pleasure” that their coup plans included homicides and acknowledged being linked by a “deep rejection of state institutions” in Germany and firmly convinced that the federal Republic is actually governed by members of a called “Deep State” from which the Germans should be freed. His main goal was “system change at all levels.”

What’s more, some information suggests that Maximilian E. , a retired colonel who had been part of the Special Forces Command and who was now a member of the military arm devised by Rüdiger von P., had already planned the acquisition of equipment for the overthrow. as well as shooting training. The group is also said to have discussed an armed action in the Bundestag – the German Parliament – although, according to various German media reports, no imminent attack was planned.While the suspects maintained that their objectives could only be achieved by force, it is unclear for now whether the group had managed to amass any type of arsenal, despite the fact that several of them are ex-army members and it is suspected that they may have taken out illegally armed with the army during his years of service.The group had even begun appointing ministers for a post-coup transitional government. According to the newspaper “Die Zeit”, the 58-year-old former AfD deputy Birgit Malsack-Winkemann was going to be federal minister of Justice. Although initially there was no comment from this party, early in the afternoon the populist formation criticized the police macro-operation as disproportionate and accused the authorities of diverting attention from the real problems. “The day before yesterday, a schoolgirl is the victim of a knife attack by a refugee and today, the police pounce on suspected Reichsbürger,” an AfD spokesman said in a statement .

The revolutionaries evidently saw Russia as the key political partner, to such an extent that Heinrich XIII tried to create certain contacts with that country and even, according to information from the Berlin newspaper “Tageszeitung”, the aristocrat himself visited the Russian Consulate in Leipzig to strengthen ties, although the Prosecutor’s Office assured that there are no indications that the Russian contact persons “reacted positively to his request.” After its seizure of power, the group had planned to renegotiate the treaties that Germany signed with the allies after the end of World War II.

The investigation remains open and new arrests are not ruled out. Investigators met the network last spring on the sidelines of a raid on four men from the spectrum of coronavirus deniers who had organized themselves into Telegram groups. They were also accused of coup plots and the planned kidnapping of Health Minister Karl Lauterbach . The current identity card was discovered in the course of that investigation. Lawmaker for the left-wing Die Linke party Martina Renner praised the capture of the suspects and the work carried out by the Prosecutor’s Office, although she criticized the fact that the raid had been “an open secret” for days. “It’s hard to imagine that no one who was captured knew about it beforehand,” she added.