Nationwide searches: Raid against armed Reich citizens


Status: 07.12.2022 07:30 a.m

An armed group of Reich citizens and lateral thinkers is said to be loud ARD Capital Studio and SWR planned a coup d’etat. Among the 52 accused are ex-elite soldiers and a former AfD member of the Bundestag.

By Michael Götschenberg and Holger Schmidt, ARD terrorism experts and Frank Brautigam, ARD legal expert

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”.

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

Central figure of the group is according to information from ARD Capital Studio and SWR Heinrich R., 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, Heinrich R. was intended by the group as regent, investigators say. R. works as a self-employed 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 Heinrich R. 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 ARD Capital Studio and SWR This group had very similar goals and was temporarily in contact with the group around Heinrich R. However, it is said that there was no cooperation.

logistical challenge

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.

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