According to the ARD capital studio and SWR, an armed group of Reich citizens and lateral thinkers are said to have planned a coup. Among the 52 accused are ex-elite soldiers and a former AfD member of the Bundestag.
The investigators struck in the early hours of the morning: special police forces stormed the suspects’ apartments, executed 25 arrest warrants and began extensive search measures.
The Federal Public Prosecutor’s Office accuses around 50 women and men of having formed a terrorist organization to abolish the constitutional order of the Federal Republic of Germany and establish a state modeled on the German Reich of 1871. But the group didn’t get very far.
After all, she is said to have planned, among other things, to storm the Reichstag building, to bring about civil war-like conditions by attacking the power supply, and to depose the federal government in order to then take power. People for important ministerial posts are said to have already been selected for the moment of the “takeover of power”. Leading investigators describe today’s operation against the group as unprecedented: “It goes beyond all dimensions in terms of scope.”
Coup Plan in Germany: Dangerous mission for the special forces
Since a significant part of the group consists of former soldiers of the Bundeswehr and the NVA (National People’s Army of the GDR), including men with special military training, the group is considered to be particularly dangerous. In addition to forces from the anti-terror unit GSG 9 of the federal police, officers from several special units (SEK) of the federal states were also deployed to arrest the suspects and to ensure security during search measures. Because in advance, the investigators had indications that the suspects had numerous weapons, some of which were legal.
Scion from a princely house as regent
According to information from the ARD capital studio and SWR, the central figure of the group is Heinrich Reuss, scion of a long-established princely house from today’s Thuringia. The 71-year-old has been publicly representing his weird Reich citizen theses for several years. In 2019, for example, he appeared as a speaker at the “Worldwebforum” in Switzerland and explained that the Federal Republic was not a sovereign state, but was still controlled by the Allies.
In another video on the Internet, he describes the state and the judiciary as “companies”. In the event of the allegedly planned coup, Reuss was designated by the group as regent, investigators say. Reuss works as an independent financial consultant in Frankfurt am Main and owns a hunting lodge in Thuringia. Members of the group are said to have met there several times over the course of this year, according to security circles.
Judge from Berlin involved
In preparation for the planned takeover, a kind of “shadow cabinet” is said to have been formed, with Reuss at the top. The justice department is particularly explosive, for which the former AfD member of the Bundestag Birgit Malsack-Winkemann is said to have been designated, who also belongs to the group of suspects. She has been working as a judge in Berlin since leaving the Bundestag last year. Previous attempts by the Berlin Senate Administration to remove her from the judiciary because of her AfD commitment had so far failed.
Tim Paul G., another suspect and doctor of law, is said to have been designated as foreign minister, and Matthes H. from Baden-Württemberg, known for years as a Reich citizen ideologue, for questions of international law. The doctor Melanie R. from Lower Saxony is on the list as a kind of health minister. According to the investigators, she is said to have supported the group financially. Another ministry should be responsible for “Transmission”.
“Armed Arm” with ex-soldiers
The security authorities consider the group to be a fire hazard mainly because active and former Bundeswehr soldiers with special training are among the accused. The group also spoke internally about a kind of “armed arm”. These people are said to include Rüdiger von P., who commanded a parachute battalion in the early 1990s until it was merged into the then newly founded “Special Forces Command” (KSK).
P. was dismissed from the Bundeswehr at the time because he had embezzled or sold weapons from the stocks of the National People’s Army of the GDR. According to the investigators, P. is considered a ringleader. With Marco v. H. belongs to the group of suspects, another convicted, former contract soldier, who is said to have served with the KSK, according to security circles. P. and H. were active in the Corona protest movement in Pforzheim, where H. in particular took care of recruiting further members for the group.
In fact, the group also tried to recruit active soldiers – and with success: the group of suspects includes a KSK soldier who works as a logistician for the association. In investigative circles it is said that there have been several attempts to recruit soldiers active in barracks as members.
Agitators at Corona protests
A few suspected members of the group have already appeared publicly as agitators at corona protest events. So the former Colonel Maximilian E., who is attributed to the “lateral thinker movement”. At a Corona protest event, he publicly advocated sending the KSK to Berlin to “clean up properly”. E. was also in the special forces command when he was active in the Bundeswehr.
In the summer he got involved with a group of veterans when the Ahr valley flooded, wore a uniform, wrote “orders” and set up a kind of “command center” in a school, even though he had long since left the Bundeswehr.
With the ex-policeman Michael F. there is another “lateral thinker” among the accused, who gave the Hitler salute at a demonstration. He is also attributed to the Reich Citizens’ Movement and was therefore dismissed from the police service of the state of Lower Saxony this year.
From “Kangal” to “Shadow”
Several security authorities with hundreds of officers were involved in the investigations leading up to the raid: First, the Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution investigated under the operation name “Kangal” together with the constitutional protection authorities of several countries.
Due to the connection to the Bundeswehr, the Federal Office for the Military Counterintelligence Service was involved. Finally, the Federal Criminal Police Office took over with the investigation team “Shadows” with the participation of several state criminal investigation offices. The Attorney General is leading the investigation.
Related to further investigations
Today’s measures are also related to an already known investigation by the Federal Public Prosecutor (“United Patriots”) against four men and the 75-year-old former teacher Elisabeth R. because of an apparently planned attack on Federal Minister of Health Karl Lauterbach.
According to information from the ARD capital studio and SWR, this group had very similar goals and was temporarily in contact with the group around Reuss. However, there was no collaboration.
For the federal prosecutor, it is probably the largest anti-terrorist operation in the history of the Federal Republic. Up to 3,000 federal and state officials are deployed. Due to the large number of suspects and many arrest warrants, access to the judiciary and the police authorities involved poses considerable logistical challenges.
All those arrested during the raid must be brought before an investigating judge by the end of the following day, who will then decide whether to carry out the pre-trial detention.
“With all severity against enemies of democracy”
Violent overthrow fantasies and conspiracy ideologies: After the raid on a suspected terrorist network, Interior Minister Faeser speaks of an “abyss of the Reich citizen milieu”. The FDP calls for more harshness against extremist officials.
Federal Minister of the Interior Nancy Faeser declares war on Reich citizens after a major raid on alleged coup plans. “The investigations allow us to look into the abyss of a terrorist threat from the Reich citizen milieu,” explained Faeser. The suspected terrorist organization was “driven by violent fantasies of overthrow and conspiracy ideologies,” stressed the SPD politician.
“Militant citizens of the Reich share hatred for democracy, for our state and for people who stand up for our community.” The security authorities took action against such efforts with all the consistency of the rule of law, explained Faeser and added: “We will continue this tough approach.”
Faeser: “Our rule of law is strong”
However, only the further investigations would show how far the coup plans had already progressed. The minister praised the more than 3,000 police officers who were involved in the raids. “Our rule of law is strong,” explained Faeser. “We know how to defend ourselves with all severity against the enemies of democracy.”
The SPD parliamentary secretary Katja Mast also called for the defense of democratic values. “Our democracy was, is and will remain defensive. There are forces that work every day to undermine our democracy. And our constitutional state must and can defend itself against this,” said the politician.
The violent fantasies of the Reich citizen scene should not be dismissed as slapstick or crazy, added the SPD faction deputy Dirk Wiese to the portal t-online. He warned against underestimating those involved, who would not shy away from violence.
Kuhle: Tougher action against extremist officials
A tougher pace would also have to be taken in the civil service, demanded FDP parliamentary group leader Konstantin Kuhle. “Particularly problematic is the group’s renewed connection to the Bundeswehr and the police. Anyone who rejects or even wants to eliminate state order in Germany cannot be a civil servant. Public service law must be tightened up quickly here,” Kuhle wrote on Twitter.
He warned that the “extreme right-wing scene is networking with each other, hoarding weapons and dreaming of a ‘coup'” and went on to write: “Our well-fortified democracy will stand against this disgusting brown soup!”
Green politicians pointed out the great potential for danger from right-wing extremist terror. Group leader Katharina Dröge thanked the people in the security authorities on Twitter who “work every day to protect our democracy”.
“We have to take the dangers of right-wing extremism seriously,” warned the co-leader of the Greens, Britta Haßelmann.
Police union calls for more recognition for officers
The police union (GdP) meanwhile called for more support for emergency services. Police successes such as the large-scale raid against the citizens of the Reich should not “conceal many grievances within the police force,” explained GdP boss Jochen Kopelke.
Among other things, he addressed the lack of staff. “And our colleagues feel a rapidly increasing lack of respect for what they do.” Accesses like this are associated with great danger for the emergency services and an enormous amount of investigative and planning effort.
“Many people can’t imagine what it’s like to open a door and not know if there’s a sudden shot, if there’s a booby trap lurking or, or, or,” said the union boss.
In the nationwide raid early in the morning, 25 suspected members and supporters of a terrorist organization were arrested. They are said to have planned an overthrow of the political system.