German authorities dismantled an alleged plot to overthrow the government Wednesday, arresting 25 people.
Officials said the group had formed a council to plan for a new government once an armed revolt took place.
“Since November 2021, the members of the ‘Council’ have regularly met in secret to plan the intended takeover of power in Germany and the establishment of their own state structures,” the public prosecutor’s statement said, according to The Washington Post.
Prosecutors said more than 3,000 police officials and members of the security forces conducted raids in 11 German federal states, while other suspects were arrested in Austria and Italy.
🔹Unos 3.000 agentes de policía especial arrestaron a decenas de miembros de grupos de extrema derecha acusados de promover un golpe de Estado con acciones militares y políticas.
Los cabecillas son el “príncipe” Heinrich XIII P. R., militares y políticos de ultraderecha. pic.twitter.com/l1OY3AWFMm
— El Nacional (@elnacionalpy) December 7, 2022
Reuters reported that the plot was linked to the Reichsbuerger (Citizens of the Reich) movement, whose members do not recognize current Germany as legitimate but have different far-right ideologies of what should replace it.
One active soldier and several reservists were also among those being investigated.
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“Of course, there are many busybodies who tell confused stories after drinking alcohol. Here, however, there were such strong suspicions that the group wanted to take violent action,” he said on Twitter, noting the group wanted to storm the Reichstag, the nation’s parliament building, by force.
“The investigations provide a glimpse into the abyss of a terrorist threat from the Reichsbuerger milieu. The suspected terrorist organization uncovered today is — according to the state of the investigations — driven by violent overthrow fantasies and conspiracy ideologies.” German Interior Minister Nancy Faeser said.
Authorities said a man identified as Rüdiger v. P, who was called a former paratrooper, had scouted existing bases of Germany’s armed forces that could be used for the armed forces of the new nation that would be established, according to the Daily Mail.
The group had allegedly acquired guns and held target practice for recruits.
Recruits were being sought to form “homeland security companies” that would hunt down members of what the group called the “deep state” officials indicated.
Miro Dittrich, who tracks the group, said its roots reach back to lockdowns during the pandemic, according to the BBC.
“The pandemic was a hard moment for a lot of people. It was unclear how things were going to develop… conspiracy narratives were quite attractive for a lot of people because it gave the world an order,” he said.
The BBC’s Jenny Hill said the group is fractured.
“Members don’t recognize the post-war German state and reject the authority of its government. Despite the name, which translates to Citizens of the Reich, this is no organized national movement — rather a disparate set of small groups and individuals scattered across the country who are united in that shared belief. Some print their own currency and identity cards and dream of creating their own autonomous state,” Hill wrote.