On Dec. 7, 3,000 police officers and special forces officers spanned across 11 out of Germany’s 16 states, raided 125 homes, and arrested 25 conspirators of a planned coup.
A nationwide far-right terrorist network in Germany had planned to cut off the electricity network, storm the German Capitol, arrest lawmakers, execute the chancellor, and place a German prince loyal to the group as the new head of state. The group additionally intended to put a former far-right member of Parliament in charge of a national purge.
According to a statement from Public Prosecutor General Peter Frank, authorities are investigating an additional 27 individuals on “initial suspicion” of supporting the terrorist organization’s goals and beliefs. Authorities also arrested two people in Austria and Italy. Those detained include an active duty soldier, a former officer in the elite special forces, a former lawmaker from the right-wing Alternative for Germany party, a police officer, and at least two army reservists. The majority of the members are German nationals who believe harmful, baseless claims such as those made by QAnon. They also draw their beliefs from the Reichsbürger movement, which opposes the modern German state.
The group intended to set up its own form of government with political and military wings, as well as a health department. At the head of the group’s political branch would have been Prince of Reuss Heinrich XIII, 71, who is a descendant of a royal dynasty from Thuringia. According to the prosecutor’s statement, the group — which called itself a council — has consistently met since November 2021. The accused believed that a secret society of foreign military and governments, including Russia and the United States, would assist them in their supposed liberation. Additionally, the group modeled their idyllic state on the 1871 empire called the Second Reich. Although officials speculate that the network was likely to be unsuccessful in its plot, Green Party lawmaker and government member Sarah Nanni declared, “The fact is: no matter how crude their ideas are and how hopeless their plans, even the attempt is dangerous.”
Far-right radicalism is a growing problem for German authorities. In 2019, extremists killed a German politician, and in 2020 another far-right individual killed nine immigrants. Officials first uncovered the network that planned the coup when law enforcement arrested four people in April on suspicion of plotting to kidnap German Health Minister Karl Lauterbach. As a result, a sense of urgency is now hitting law enforcement, and Stephan Kramer, the intelligence chief from Thuringia, asserted, “the most important thing is that our democracy is well-fortified and that the cooperation between the intelligence service, the police and the public prosecutors is working.”
(Sources: BBC, NPR, NY Times, Washington Post)
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