Unlike right-wing extremism in general, the number of known cases of „Citizens of the Reich“ among police and military is conspicuously low
„The accused are united by a deep rejection of state institutions and the free democratic basic order of the Federal Republic of Germany,“ writes the Federal Prosecutor General at the Federal Supreme Court about the raids on the „Reichsbürger“ („Citizens of the Reich“) milieu the day before yesterday. According to its press release, some of those arrested as terrorist organisations formed a „military arm“ with a leadership of nine persons. Their aim was to set up „homeland security companies“ and to arm them as well as to carry out shooting exercises.
Recruitment efforts had focused on members of the Bundeswehr and the police. Some of the accused were themselves active members of the Bundeswehr, the federal authority writes. The investigations are also directed against a soldier of the Bundeswehr’s Special Forces Command (KSK), according to which his house and his office in a barracks in Calw were searched.
The raid sheds light on the phenomenon of „Reichsbürger“ at federal and state security agencies, about whom – unlike right-wing extremism in general – little has been made public so far. The best known is the case of the police officer from Hanover who introduced himself as a „detective commissioner“ at Corona demonstrations and was removed from office after a decision by the Hanover Administrative Court at the end of April this year.
The Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution (BfV) also claims to know few such cases. In May, this domestic secret service published a second situation report, which for the first time differentiates not only right-wing extremists but also „Reichsbürger“ and „Selbstverwalter“ („Self-Governors“) in security agencies. The report counted a total of 860 „review cases“ over a period of three years, 327 of which would have resulted in actual indications. These are then listed as „suspected cases“.
In the situation report, the service lists criteria with which the „Citizens of the Reich“ have been recognised by the security authorities. Among them is the possession of or application for the so-called „yellow card“. The paper is supposed to document the determination of German citizenship if an authority demands this but the persons concerned do not possess or do not want to present any identity papers. According to the report, one fifth of the 30 persons classified as „Reichsbürger“ had contacts to right-wing extremist parties such as the NPD or the party Der III. Weg.
Broken down to the phenomena of „Citizens of the Reich“ and „Self-Governors“, however, the numbers are comparatively small. The domestic secret service counts only 30 persons as suspected and „proven cases of extremism“ with federal security authorities, with 67 „extremist activities“ having been identified. By way of comparison, the BfV counts 21,000 „Citizens of the Reich“ in Germany, which is an increase of 1,000 persons compared to the previous year. They are active in 30 supra-regional groups.
The number of 18 employees in state security agencies who are considered „Citizens of the Reich“ and „Self-Governors“ by the Office for the Protection of the Constitution is equally low. More than a third come from North Rhine-Westphalia, while seven federal states are not aware of any suspected cases, according to the list. Among them are also Bavaria, Hesse and Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania.
Anyone studying the domestic secret service reports on „Reichsbürger“ stumbles over the apparent absence of them among the secret services themselves. The number of suspected and proven cases is given as zero for the Federal Intelligence Service (BND) and the Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution – as well as for the Bundestag police.
„A really revealing picture of the extent of the problem would probably only be provided by an independent investigation,“ says Martina Renner, a member of the Bundestag for the Left Party, to „nd“. Renner points out that the BfV’s situation report is based on the self-reports of the security agencies and secret services. Experience shows that there are great differences in the assessment of extreme right-wing phenomena between the authorities and independent experts.
Published in German in „nd“.
Image: SSLreporter, Reichsbuerger Ruediger Hoffmann und Helmut Buschujew vor dem Reichstag in Berlin, CC BY-SA 4.0
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