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The Reichsburger Collective

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December 12, 2022

Why in news?

In one of the largest ever counter-terrorist operations in Germany, the police had arrested 25 individuals of a far-right group (The Reichsbuerger), for plotting to violently overthrow the German state.

What is Reichsburger?

  • Reichsburger - Reichsburger loosely translates to “Imperial Citizen” or “Citizens of the Reich”, the German Empire founded in 1871.
  • They do not believe in the post-World War II Federal Republic of Germany and its legal system (Grundgesetz).
  • The Reichsburger movement is not homogenous and consists of groups and individuals with varying beliefs, like far-right views, the superiority of race, and anti-Semitism (Any form of prejudice against the Jewish people).
  • Some members believe Germany is still occupied and secretly run by western powers including the U.S., the U.K., and France.
  • Reich citizens - They consider themselves citizens of the German Reich and not the Federal Republic.
  • Selbstverwalter (self-governors) - They claim legal and territorial autonomy and the right to leave the State any point of time.
  • Some people are followers of both ideologies.

reichsburger

What strategies are employed by the Reichsburger?

  • Sending letters to government agencies seeking confrontation
  • Refuse to pay taxes
  • Reject identity documents like passports issued by the Federal Republic of Germany
  • Use modified car number plates and fantasy documents
  • Declare their own national territories called the “Second German Empire,” the “Free State of Prussia” or the “Principality of Germania”
  • Idea of applying for a certificate of citizenship called “Yellow certificate,” an official document issued by the Federal Republic of Germany that confirms German citizenship
  • Displaying anti-Semitic behaviours such as blaming Jews for unemployment to Holocaust-denying conspiracy theories

What is the current trend of right-wing extremism in Germany?

  • Current picture – The right-wing extremists attempted to gain mainstream acceptance by taking advantage of protests against government during the Covid-19 time.
  • Several groups such as Kingdom of Germany, United German Peoples and Tribes (GdVuSt), etc. aims to propagate right-wing extremism in the country.
  • The group, which consisted of members of a shadowy far-right movement had even set up a ‘council’ to take over.
  • It has been reported that many Reichsbuerger are strongly influenced by QAnon, an American far-right political movement that conspired against Donald Trump during his tenure as President of the USA.
  • Steps taken - Germany combats extremism through
    • Banning organisations – It weakens their structure and allows for the confiscation of financial and material resources
    • Banning controversial symbols and marks - Usage of certain symbols and signs, including those representing Nazism, is banned by law.

 

References

  1. The Hindu | The Reichsbürger collective
  2. The Hindu | Resurgence of far-right extremism in Germany
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