German Minister Vows to Dismantle Group Accused of Coup Plot

(Bloomberg) -- Germany’s interior minister vowed to forge ahead with the dismantling of the nation’s militant “Reichsbürger” movement, a day before members of the group go to trial accused of planning to violently overthrow the government.

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More than 3,000 law-enforcement officers, including hundreds of special forces personnel, conducted raids across Germany in December 2022 targeting the group, which adheres to a far-right ideology that rejects the legitimacy of Germany’s democratic order.

They took more than 20 people into custody, including an aristocratic ringleader, a former lawmaker with the far-right Alternative for Germany, and at least one member of an elite military unit. Reichsbürger members had hatched a plan to attack the lower house of parliament in Berlin and take lawmakers hostage, according to the federal prosecutor.

Nine men, all German citizens, will go to trial Monday in Stuttgart, with another 18 people to be tried later in separate proceedings in Frankfurt and Munich.

“These militant ‘Reich citizens’ are driven by hatred of our democracy,” Interior Minister Nancy Faeser said Sunday in an emailed statement.

“We will continue our tough approach until we have completely exposed and dismantled” the group, she added. “Nobody in this extremist scene should feel safe.”

Some members of the movement also adhere to QAnon conspiracy theories and are convinced that Germany is ruled by members of a so-called Deep State, according to the prosecutor.

They believe that the country will be liberated by the “Alliance,” a secret organization of governments, intelligence services and armed forces of various nations, including Russia and the US.

One of the men detained was identified as Heinrich XIII, the Prince of Reuss, who led the group’s “council” and planned to take over the government.

Part of the plan was to set up an interim administration and begin negotiations with the victorious World War II powers - above all, Russia. Heinrich XIII made contact with Russian representatives in Germany, according to the prosecutor.

Members of the group began meeting regularly in November 2021, a month before Chancellor Olaf Scholz took office in a coalition of his Social Democrats, the Greens and the Free Democrats. The prosecutor has described a concerted effort to recruit military personnel and police to the cause.

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