Germany arrests 25 accused of plotting coup
December 7, 2022 - Twenty-five members of a far-right group, inspired by the so-called “Reichsbürger” movement, have been arrested in raids across Germany on suspicion of plotting to overthrow the government.
The group of far-right and ex-military figures are said to have prepared for a “Day X” to storm the Reichstag parliament building and seize power. A minor aristocrat named as Prince Heinrich XIII, 71, is alleged to have been central to their plans.
Heinrich XIII comes from an old noble family known as the House of Reuss, which ruled over parts of the modern eastern state of Thuringia until 1918. The rest of the family have long distanced themselves from the minor aristocrat.
Germany’s domestic intelligence service Verfassungsschutz put the Reichsbuerger movement under observation in 2016, shortly after a police officer was shot and killed by Wolfgang P. during a raid to seize his arsenal of over 30 firearms that he had illegally hoarded. In 2017, Wolfgang P. was sentenced to life imprisonment for killing.
In 2019, Adrian Ursache, self-proclaimed “Reichsbürger” and once crowned as the most handsome man in Germany, was sentenced to 7 years in prison for the attempted murder of two officers in a 2016 raid on his home.
And last April, four members of the so-called “United Patriots” – affiliated with the Reichsbürger and with groups protesting against Covid-19 restrictions – were detained for plotting to kidnap the German health minister Karl Lauterbach.
The Reichsbürger movement is estimated to have as many as 21,000 followers, of whom around 5% are considered to belong to the extreme right.