In eight federal states, emergency services searched objects in connection with investigations against “Reich citizens”. According to the Munich Public Prosecutor’s Office, 20 apartments were searched on suspicion of involvement in a criminal organization.
Police and public prosecutors have launched raids in eight federal states against the so-called Reich citizen scene. The apartments of 20 defendants were searched on suspicion of involvement in a criminal organization, the lead public prosecutor’s office in Munich said. There was also a search in the Hechingen correctional facility, where, according to the public prosecutor’s office, one of the accused is being held on other charges. In total, 21 objects were searched.
Bavarian Interior Minister Joachim Herrmann said the accused were between 25 and 74 years old. Among other things, they are said to have tried to block authorities by making mass contacts. To do this, they agreed to meet about their plans in several channels of the messenger service Telegram, which the authorities have been monitoring since the beginning of 2021.
280 emergency services searched objects
280 emergency services were involved nationwide, including several special forces. The focus of the searches was Baden-Württemberg with ten objects. Objects were also searched in Bavaria, Hesse, North Rhine-Westphalia, Schleswig-Holstein, Brandenburg, Hamburg and Lower Saxony. 20 of them were searched on Thursday in order to secure evidence and uncover other possible illegal structures – a total of 20 apartments
Numerous pieces of evidence were confiscated. Investigators found, among other things, data carriers and a blank gun. The Bavarian Ministry of the Interior and Justice announced in a joint statement that irritant devices were also seized. “All evidence is meticulously evaluated,” said Herrmann. The investigators hoped for “a further brightening of the Reich citizens’ environment.” Further investigations cannot be ruled out.
Ringleader from Upper Bavaria
The alleged ringleader of the “Reichsbürger” group comes from Upper Bavaria. The man is said to have operated the group’s main Telegram channel. He lives in the Fürstenfeldbruck district and had already received a visit from the police before the search operation, explained Herrmann. According to the Munich Public Prosecutor’s Office, the 58-year-old was arrested in November 2021. In April 2022, the man was charged with, among other things, forming a criminal organization, incitement to hatred and coercion before the Munich Regional Court. The process is not yet completed.
The group “insulted state institutions nationwide on a large scale and sometimes massively threatened them, mainly via social media,” reported the Munich Public Prosecutor’s Office. In addition, the group wanted to block their communication channels by making targeted, mass contact with authorities and thus influence their decisions. The overarching goal was to destabilize the Federal Republic of Germany and its institutions and to prevent or at least make lawful state action more difficult. “The interviewees were, for example, confronted with Reich citizenship theses, accused of committing human rights and war crimes, insulted and sometimes threatened with death,” said the Munich public prosecutor’s office.
Five suspects arrested in October
In October, emergency services in several federal states searched numerous apartments of so-called Reich citizens who were attributed to the alleged terrorist group “United Patriots”. Five suspects were arrested.
“Reich citizens” are people who do not recognize the Federal Republic and its democratic structures. The Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution counted around 23,000 people across Germany in 2022 as belonging to the “Reich Citizens” and “Self-Administrators” scene. That’s 2,000 more than last year.