Germany’s far-right fringe has been thwarted in a terror plot to take down the government in Berlin and scrap the country’s post-World War 2 constitution in favor of a reestablished German Reich, according to Berlin police. The complex conspiracy was said to have been shattered on Wednesday as German police carried out the largest series of raids in the country’s history which targeted a movement known as Reichsburger or “citizens of the Reich”.
The coup’s accused ringleader appears to be a bespectacled German aristocrat who likes to style himself as Heinrich XIII Prince Reuss, had the plotters succeeded the plan was for the 71-year-old to be appointed “Kaiser” of King of the new German Reich.
Heinrich XIII supporters appear to share an obsession with restoring the old German Empire which existed between 1871 to 1918 after the expansion of the Kingdom of Prussia under Otto von Bismarck.
The Reichsburger also shares many of the traditional anti-semitic tropes and conspiracies as other far-right groups such as a belief in a “great replacement” being carried out by global elites to destroy white Europeans.
Reichsburger membership tends to overlap with various neo-nazi sects who idealise Adolf Hitler’s Nazi Party and believe the Third Reich remains the legitimate state in Germany.
Dismissed as oddballs, the Reichsburger movement is believed to have some 21,000 followers with the group even providing ID cards to members complete with the flag and crest of Imperial Germany.
German prosecutors have claimed that the group planned to use “violence and military means” and was “driven by violent overthrow fantasies and conspiracy ideologies”.
Prosecutor Peter Frank said in a statement: “The arrested persons adhere to conspiracy myths consisting of various narratives of the Reichsburger ideology as well as the QAnon ideology.”
One of those arrested was a soldier serving on the support staff for Germany’s special forces unit KSK in the southwestern town of Calw.
In the wake of the police swoop, German lawmakers have been left wondering how close the Reichsburger came to acting out their far-right fantasy.
German Green party politician Sara Nanni has suggested that the group may not have been “clever enough” to pull off the coup but pose a threat none the less.
She wrote on social media: “More details keep coming to light that raise doubts about whether these people were even clever enough to plan and carry out such a coup.
“The fact is: no matter how crude their ideas are and how hopeless their plans, even the attempt is dangerous!”