By A. S.
More than 3 000 police officers raided 52 suspects in Germany, Italy and Austria last night, the so-called German Reichsburgers, or “citizens of the Empire”, who, according to German Interior Minister Nancy Faeser, were allegedly plotting some kind of “violent coup” or coup d’état. The Reichsburger movement does not recognise the Federal Republic of Germany and the structures of liberal democracy and supports the restoration of the German Empire, which, according to its members, is the only legitimate German state.
The raids took place throughout Germany from the early hours of the morning and were carried out by the Federal Criminal Police (BKA) and special units such as GSG 9. In an operation called ‘Shadow’, some 3 000 police officers searched 137 private homes and properties. According to German media reports, 25 people were arrested. After the raids were completed in Berlin, the Social Democrat Interior Minister, Nancy Faeser, told the press that “an organisation suspected of terrorism is driven by violent fantasies and conspiratorial ideologies”.
The leader of the movement is believed to be 71-year-old Prince Heinrich XIII. Reuss, who was also arrested. He is a German nobleman who, according to the movement, is the legitimate heir to the crown of the German Empire. The authorities claim that the movement wanted to enthrone him as the new leader of Germany. As a result, police officers also raided and searched his castle in Bad Lobenstein, in the state of Thuringia. Among the members of the movement who have been arrested or searched are several former soldiers, judges, doctors and politicians. Also arrested is Judge Brigit M.W., a former German Member of the Alternative for Germany, a conservative party that is a thorn in the side of the current left-wing coalition. Vitalia B., a Russian citizen, was also arrested.
The outlines of the form of state with which the “citizens of the empire” wanted to replace the current liberal regime have already been drawn up. At the centre of the movement was to be a so-called “council”, some say also called a “patriotic federation”, which already had existing departments for justice, foreign affairs and health. According to the German media, the members of this ‘council’ had been meeting regularly since November last year and had been planning to take power and set up their own state structures, according to a spokeswoman for the public prosecutor’s office.
According to some information, the movement has around 21 000 supporters. However, some believe that the number is actually much higher.