Abstract: The alleged plot against the German government by the Reichsbürger group Patriotic Union, whose key members were arrested on December 7, 2022, is best understood as a thwarted, possible early-stage terrorist plot, rather than a preempted imminent violent coup attempt. The Reichsbürger, who are comprised of different groups and networks, claim that the German state of today does not legally exist. Many Reichsbürger ascribe to a version of the anti-Semitic ‘New World Order;’ others believe in “QAnon.” Some are right-wing extremists. However, the German Reichsbürger are not a movement. They lack structure, unifying narratives, and a common leadership, and their leading adherents do not cooperate with each other. Although the vast majority of Reichsbürger are neither considered violent nor right-wing extremists by German security agencies, the threat posed by a minority of violent and extremist Reichsbürger persists, with German security agencies continuing to thwart alleged violent activity linked to different Reichsbürger groups. Hence, the broad variety of Reichsbürger groups and individuals requires ongoing and focused attention by the German police and intelligence agencies, investigative journalists as well as civil society organizations.

The largest counterterrorism raid in the history of the Federal Republic of Germany took place on December 7, 2022.1 It was directed against a network of Reichsbürger (Citizens of the Empire) called the Patriotic Union. More than 3,000 police officers, including SWAT teams and special forces, searched apartments, houses, and offices in 11 of the 16 German federal states. Twenty-five people were arrested, including one each in Austria and Italy. Among the arrested was the alleged ring-leader, Heinrich the 13th, Prinz Reuß who has strong anti-Semitic and pro-Putin sentiments.2 Until the abolishment of the monarchy in Germany in 1918, his family had ruled a small part of eastern Germany for centuries. Also arrested were a former member of the Bundestag and now suspended judge, former officers of the German armed forces, a police inspector, a doctor, a gourmet chef, a lawyer, a pilot, an opera singer, a clairvoyant, a roofer, and an employee of an advertising agency.3 Some of the defendants are also part of Querdenken, a German movement driven by conspiracy narratives, that featured in organized protests by networks, groups, and individuals during the pandemic against government measures to contain the coronavirus.4 In total, more than 50 people are under investigation.

This article assesses the alleged plot by the Reichsbürger group called Patriotic Union to overthrow the German government that was thwarted in December 2022. The article first outlines what is known about the plot. It then in turn examines the history, the ideology, the adherents, and the threat posed by the Reichsbürger.

The Plot
The German Federal Prosecutor General accuses the defendants of having created a terrorist organization and aiming to overthrow the existing state order in Germany, possibly by using military means and violence against state representatives. Among the discussed actions were entering the German Bundestag building (the federal parliament) and taking its members hostage.5

During the raid, police forces seized 97 guns, more than 25,000 pieces of ammunition, helmets, uniforms, night-vision devices, machetes, daggers, radios, blank vaccination cards, computers, cell phones, hard drives, and illegal narcotics. More than 400,000 euros in cash and around 100 pounds of precious metals, mainly gold bars and coins, were also found.6 However, it is unclear if these valuables were intended to finance the alleged terrorist group. Most of the weapons were legally owned.7 A list with names and addresses of politicians and their staff were found as well.8

The plot appears to also have had a foreign dimension. A Russian suspect living in Germany, reportedly the life partner of the group’s leader,9 is suspected of having supported the organization, in particular by facilitating contact between the Patriotic Union leadership and Russian officials.10 A spokesperson for the Kremlin denied any Russian involvement.11

The History of the Reichsbürger
The roots of the Reichsbürger phenomenon go back nearly 40 years. The first “provisional government of the German Reich” was created in 1985 by Wolfgang Gerhard Günther Ebel, a disgruntled former employee of the East German state-owned train service Reichsbahn.12 After having been fired from the train service for co-organizing a strike for better working conditions in 1980, and after several lost court cases where he tried to get re-employed by the Reichsbahn,13 he reportedly claimed that someone from the U.S. government told him that the victors of World War II were still in charge and that neither the German Democratic Republic nor the Federal Republic of Germany legally existed.14 As a result, he argued, the laws of the German Reich would still apply where public servants (Beamte) could not be fired.15 In 1985, Ebel declared himself Reichschancellor of the “provisional government of the German Reich” and started to gather likeminded individuals around him. Over the years, several independent spin-off groups were created, leading to the very diverse Reichsbürger phenomenon of today.16

Reichsbürger Ideology
The Reichsbürger challenge the legitimacy of the current German democratic political order. However, Reichsbürger are by no means a unified movement with a clear ideology. Notably, in their definition of the Reichsbürger, German police and intelligence services include a separate but somewhat similar group of people, the so-called sovereign citizens (Selbstverwalter),17 who in this article will be included in the term Reichsbürger.

Among the Reichsbürger are several self-proclaimed kings of Germany and many self-proclaimed counts, dukes, chancellors and ministers, mayors, and special envoys who produce their own ‘government-issued’ documents and are often in conflict with each other.18 German intelligence services estimated 23,000 individuals to be Reichsbürger in 2022.19 This number had more than doubled since 2017, when around 10,000 Reichsbürger were estimated to exist.20

Many Reichsbürger ascribe to any number of conspiracy narratives, such as a supposed Jewish-controlled ‘New World Order.’21 Others believe in a supposedly all-powerful child-murdering deep state, espoused by “QAnon.”22 Some are right-wing extremists. During the COVID-19 pandemic, there was a cross-fertilization of various conspiracy narratives, with individuals choosing parts of one narrative or another in a “salad-bar” manner in order to support their personal and political agendas.

A visible but also extreme example of this cross-fertilization and cross-cooperation was the Querdenken protest in Berlin on August 29, 2020. Out of an estimated 38,000 participants, a group of 300-400 rioters overcame the police barriers and occupied the steps of the Reichstag building, the seat of the German Federal Parliament. Among the rioters were QAnon believers, right-wing extremists and Reichsbürger, waiving historic German imperial war flags. Some tried to enter the Reichstag but were held off by a handful of police officers until police reinforcements arrived.23 During the whole Querdenken protest, 33 police officers were injured and 316 suspects were arrested.24 This led to 77 charges for trespassing and five charges for resisting arrest, but most cases have been dismissed due to lack of evidence.25

The only narrative all Reichsbürger agree upon is that the Federal Republic of Germany supposedly does not legally exist. Unlike the above-mentioned conspiracy narratives, which are postulated in different Reichsbürger milieus, the question of whether the German Empire legally still exists and what this would mean for Germany today has actually been discussed in German mainstream jurisprudence for decades.26

Germany’s turbulent history of the last 150 years is not characterized by smooth transitions between various political systems. The German Empire was founded in 1871 as a monarchy. After losing World War I in 1918, Germany abolished the monarchic system and became the democratic Weimar Republic before turning into the fascist dictatorship of Nazi-Germany, the “Third Reich.” After losing World War II in 1945, two separate German states existed for 40 years from 1949 onward, only merging into the Germany of today in 1990.

Decisions of the German supreme court from 1973 and 1987 have dealt specifically with the question of whether the German Reich still exists and whether today’s Germany is the German Reich from 1871 or 1937 just within different borders and with a new political order. The court finally decided that today’s Germany is the German Reich within different borders and with a new political order.27 Other points of legitimate legal discussion are caused by the fact that the German constitution (Grundgesetz) was initially intended as a temporary constitution that was supposed to expire with a unified Germany but became the constitution of today’s unified Germany.28 In summary, some of the legal arguments raised by Reichsbürger are not without merit, but the vast majority of the population, the judiciary, historians, and policymakers consider these questions answered and have moved on.29

Who Are the Reichsbürger?
Notwithstanding the fact that up to 29 percent of adherents are women, the typical Reichsbürger is over 50 years old and male, has lived through different personal and professional crises, is frustrated about his status quo in society, and is in financial debt.30 For a believer of the Reichsbürger ideology, claiming that the German state does not legally exist promises to fix several of these issues: If Germany is not a legitimate state, then no taxes, fees, fines, or debts would need to be paid.

Moreover, the individual railing against this supposedly illegitimate state can claim to be a hero struggling for justice and against a supposedly unjust or even criminal state. For some, joining in the ranks of the Reichsbürger may lead to a higher sense of status. Using Arie Kruglanski, Jocelyn Bélanger, and Rohan Gunaratna’s radicalization theory of needs, narratives, and networks as a quest for significance,31 the process of becoming a Reichsbürger can be understood as a strategy of self-help and self-empowerment to satisfy basic human needs.

However, not all Reichsbürger are in financial trouble; some are even wealthy. These individuals might seek a type of significance and status upgrade that money cannot buy. The supposed leader of the Patriotic Union, Heinrich the 13th Prinz Reuß, reportedly owns several properties, including a small castle, and bought a forest worth one million euros from the German federal government just days before the police raid.32 However, the large aristocratic family of the prince had distanced themselves from him years ago due to his extreme political views, making him a pariah among aristocratic elite circles.33

Police officers lead Heinrich 13th Prince Reuss to a police vehicle on December 7, 2022, in Frankfurt, Germany, during a raid against the Reichsbürger group Patriotic Union. (Boris Roessler/picture-alliance/dpa/AP Images)

How Dangerous Are the Reichsbürger?
A popular term used by German officials in describing Reichsbürger activities is “paper-terrorism.”34 Reichsbürger regularly send letters and files with hundreds of pages to public authorities claiming the illegitimacy of the German government and objecting to paying property taxes, street cleaning fees, or parking ticket fines.35 Since public administration in principle needs to respond to every letter professionally, dealing with Reichsbürger puts a significant burden on the affected authorities. At some point, templates and forms for such Reichsbürger letter-writing were posted online, leading to a deluge of such correspondence to government offices.36 Some of the letters also include threats that non-compliant recipients will be prosecuted once the German empire is reestablished. As a result, government agencies and civil society organizations have developed several handbooks and trainings for local, state, and federal authorities, as well as for judges, on how to deal with this harassment.37

If a person residing in Germany does not pay taxes, fees, or fines that they owe the government, at some point a court-mandated debt collector will show up at that individual’s door to claim and confiscate valuables to settle the debt. If the individual in question does not comply, police officers will enforce the court order. Considering the previously described self-empowerment functionality of becoming a Reichsbürger—for example, pursuing a hero-status to achieve a desired status-upgrade—it is likely that any resistance against the supposedly illegitimate state and its agents would be framed as self-defense.

For example, a research study from 2018, which analyzed media reports about crimes or misdemeanors committed by Reichsbürger between the years 2003 and 2016, identified 1,070 such incidents committed by 487 individuals who fall within the category of Reichsbürger.38 These cases involved driving without official (but with self-made) driver’s licenses and license plates, violating the duty to pay mandatory long-term healthcare insurance (Pflegeversicherung), and resisting police officers. There were also reported cases of coercion and blackmailing of public officials. Confrontations with the police—for example, during property searches, traffic checks, or court-ordered seizures—were reportedly provoked and initiated by Reichsbürger.39

A tipping point in the perception of policymakers and security agencies in Germany regarding the threat posed by some Reichsbürger was the murder of a policeman in Bavaria in 2016. In this incident, during a police raid to confiscate the 30 legally purchased firearms of a Reichsbürger, the 50-year-old man fired 11 shots, killing a police officer and injuring two others.40

In March 2020, the German federal government banned the Reichsbürger association “Geeinte deutsche Völker und Stämme” (United German peoples and tribes) due to its aggressive racism and anti-Semitic propaganda, which violate the constitutional principle of the “peaceful understanding of peoples” and the German penal code.41 This legal instrument is frequently used by federal or state authorities (Innenministerien) in Germany to stop the activities of extremist groups.42

In December 2022, German security agencies estimated that fewer than 10 percent, or 2,100, of the 23,000 Reichsbürger were violence-oriented, which is defined as an individual who perpetrates acts of violence, issues threats, or openly supports violence.43 About six percent (1,250) of the Reichsbürger were considered to be right-wing extremists. To fall into into both the Reichsbürger and right-wing extremist categories, according to the definitions of German security agencies, an individual needs to be visibly active in both milieus.44 Between 2016 and 2022, 1,100 firearm permits held by Reichsbürger were revoked, leaving about 500 Reichsbürger legally owning firearms at the start of 2022.45 Last year, Reichsbürger were accused of having committed 29 crimes involving firearms.46

In April 2022, eight months before German authorities broke up the alleged Patriotic Union plot to overthrow the government, a group of five Reichsbürger was charged with creating a terrorist organization, preparing an act of high treason, and planning to kidnap the federal health minister. They were arrested while attempting to buy two AK-47 assault rifles and four Glock handguns from an undercover police officer. The group had already collected 17 firearms and 59 other weapons and was reportedly active on the public Telegram channel of the Patriotic Union.47 A 75-year-old woman and former teacher was in charge of the administration of the supposed terrorist group.48 As already noted, up to 29 percent of Reichsbürger are reportedly women.49

Public Controversy Around the Raid
The raid to break up the alleged December 2022 Patriotic Union plot was and continues to be controversial. The right-wing party Alternative für Deutschland (AfD) ridiculed the plans of the Patriotic Union as a “rolling walker coup,” referring to the high age of the arrested leadership with many of them being around 70 years old.50 The arrested judge and former member of the Bundestag, who was the designated justice minister of the Reichsbürger group, is a member of the AfD, as are two other suspected members of the Patriotic Union.51

Some members of the conservative Christian Democratic Union (CDU) in parliament also questioned the capabilities of the alleged plotters and were skeptical regarding the actual threat they posed.52 The leader of the opposition in the Bundestag and head of the CDU did not publicly comment on the arrests for several days.53 Conversely, parties from the center-left to the far-left saw the arrests as proof of the growing threat from the (extreme-right) Reichsbürger milieus.54

Broad criticism focused on the fact that the arrests in the early morning of December 7, 2022, were broadcast live by major TV networks. Various media outlets published comprehensive background stories on the arrested individuals on the same day. Reportedly, due to the involvement of dozens of police departments in the raids, journalists had been made aware in advance of the planned raid. The arrested individuals had been under surveillance by police, intelligence agencies, and investigative reporters since at least March 2022.55

There are reports suggesting that some of the defendants were made aware of the raids in advance. A former German special forces commander who was one of those arrested supposedly called a neighbor in his hometown in Germany from his vacation home in Croatia to inform them about the upcoming police raid on his (the former special forces commander’s) residence.56 The question of to what degree the security of the police officers that morning was in jeopardy due to leaked information about the raid was a major concern.57 There was, however, no resistance during the arrests.

Was a Violent Coup Attempt Imminent?
The potential threat emanating from the Patriotic Union concerning the supposed planned violent coup should be assessed like any other preemptive arrest of members of a suspected terrorist organization. The Federal Prosecutor General accuses the more than 50 defendants of having created a terrorist organization that aimed to overthrow the existing state order in Germany. This included alleged collusion to enter the German Bundestag building by force and with arms, to take its members hostage, and—following the establishment of a proto-government structure—to proclaim martial law.58 Allegedly, at least three members of the Patriotic Union are former members of the German armed forces (Bundeswehr); one was an active-duty soldier at the time of his arrest. Among the defendants are also three policemen. These individuals were supposedly planning to establish homeland security units (Heimatschutzkompanien), in particular by recruiting members of the Bundeswehr and the police.59

As noted at the beginning of the article, during the raids, police forces seized 97 guns, most of them legally owned, with more than 25,000 rounds of ammunition. A list with names and addresses of politicians and their staff were found as well.60 More than 100 individuals reportedly signed non-disclosure agreements with the Patriotic Union. A violation of this agreement was reportedly punishable, in severe cases by a death penalty.61

Of the accused 50 individuals, three are categorized as dangerous (Gefährder), referring to individuals for which the security forces have substantiated indications that justify the presumption that they will commit serious politically motivated crimes. Two of the Patriotic Union Gefährder are considered to have an extreme right-wing background. Five other suspects are categorized as relevant individuals (relevante Personen), meaning they will likely support and enable serious politically motivated crimes.62

The German Federal Criminal Police (Bundeskriminalamt, BKA) has a developed risk and mobilization tool (RADAR) to assess the threats posed by individuals classified by state police as dangerous individuals (Gefährder) and relevant persons.63 This tool is designed to help prioritize government interventions such as surveillance measures or the imposition of travel restrictions. The criteria and indicators applied in this classification have not been made public.

However, the National Counterterrorism Center, the FBI, and the Department of Homeland Security have co-published a handbook on U.S. violent extremism mobilization indicators. When applying these criteria to the publicly available information concerning the members of the Patriotic Union and their actions, a mixed picture appears. Indicators from the U.S. document that would (partially) apply to the accused members of the Patriotic Union include:

“Financial: Moving or acquiring money or resources to prepare for or conduct violence.

Ideology: Developing or communicating the mentality or justification that could lead to the commission of a violent act.

Intent: Developing or communicating goals or plans to commit a violent act.

Relationship: Interacting with others, including family or other violent extremists.

Tactics: Acquiring or developing skills, knowledge, or materials to engage in violent extremist activities”64

On the other hand, other indicators for an imminent threat are not met, such as:

“Disseminating one’s own martyrdom or last will video or statement (for example, a pre-attack manifesto or final statement)

Conducting a dry run of an attack or assault or attempting to gain proximity or access to targets …

Disposing of meaningful personal assets or belongings in an unusual manner, particularly with a sense of urgency or without regard for personal financial gain.

Unusual goodbyes or post-death instructions”65

At the time of writing, there are no reports of manifestos or last-will statements by the alleged plotters. The existence of such documents would make sense if an armed attack on the Bundestag, including the proclamation of martial law, had been planned for the near future. The same applies for indicators such as having conducted a dry run of the attack (e.g., in the Bundestag buildings) or of the selling of meaningful personal assets with a sense of urgency (e.g., to bribe government officials or to procure costly gear or weapons in the final stages of planning). According to public records, quite the opposite seems to be true. As mentioned earlier, the alleged leader of the Patriotic Union purchased real estate worth one million euros from the German federal government just days before the police raid.

The head of the German Federal Criminal Police stated on German national TV that apparently no date was set for the alleged intended attack on the Reichstag but that the security agencies did not want to wait until the last moment and that the alleged creation of a terrorist organization provided sufficient grounds for the raids and arrests.66

In this author’s assessment, it therefore seems unlikely that an imminent intent was present during the time of the arrests. It is also highly questionable that an attempted violent coup by this group, if followed through, would have been successful in any considerable manner. It is, however, very likely that an attack on the Bundestag or other targets would have caused injuries and possible deaths on the side of the police, targeted politicians, bystanders, and attackers. Due to the massive surveillance by police and intelligence agencies (and investigative journalists) on the Patriotic Union since March 2022, the Bundestag police had reportedly spent weeks preparing for the possibility of an attack. The police bodyguards of the most important government ministers had reportedly been put on high alert.67

Since their inception in the 1980s, the German Reichsbürger have not been an organized movement. They lack structure, unifying narratives, a common leadership, or even strategic cooperation between their different self-appointed “kings,” “chancellors,” “special envoys,” and other fantasy-titled key figures.68 The only thing that connects them is the fundamental denial of the legitimacy of the German state. This is one of the main reasons why German authorities have a somewhat difficult time assessing their (changing) potential for violence and terrorist acts in comparison to more ideologically coherent, unified, and structured extremist movements.

The Reichsbürger/far-right/right-wing extremism nexus has been up for debate for some time now. German security agencies consider six percent of the 23,000 Reichsbürger as also being right-wing extremists, an analysis that has been challenged by some civil-society organizations.69 The main issue here seems to be the matter of terminology, with the government’s definition of right-wing extremism being more narrow than that of civil society organizations. The large increase in official estimates for the number of Reichsbürger from 10,000 in 2019 to 23,000 in 2022, on the other hand, is possibly related to an increased focus by security services on the Reichsbürger phenomenon, as well as to the overall mobilization and therefore visibility of conspiracy narrative believers during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Patriotic Union’s alleged plot against the German federal government can probably be best understood as a thwarted, possible early-stage terrorist plot, rather than a preempted imminent violent coup. The evidence presented at the upcoming trial will show whether this assessment can be considered correct.

Despite the arrests made on December 7, 2022, the threat posed by a minority of violent Reichsbürger has not been removed. In February 2023, police in Bavaria arrested six individuals who are reportedly part of a Reichsbürger network.70 They are charged with creating a terrorist organization and planning to sabotage the power grida in Germany to allow other likeminded groups to overthrow the government.71 There are speculations about a possible wider network of different Reichsbürger groups communicating through various Telegram channels, where ideas for attacks allegedly have been discussed.72 On March 22, as this article went to press, a police officer was shot and wounded in the arm by a witness he was interviewing in Reutlingen, south of Stuttgart, as part of the ongoing counterterrorism investigation into the Patriotic Union. The attacker, reportedly a competitve marksman who legally owns 22 firearms, was arrested for suspected attempted murder. Media reports suggest that he had participated in Querdenken protests in the past and had donated to the far-right party AfD.73 This makes clear that the broad variety of Reichsbürger groups and individuals requires ongoing and focused attention by the German police and intelligence agencies, as well as from investigative journalists and civil society organizations.     CTC

Alexander Ritzmann is a senior advisor to the Counter Extremism Project (CEP) where he works on the effective countering of extremist/terrorist actors, in particular on violence-oriented right-wing extremist (transnational) networks, offline and online. He is also a senior advisor to the European Commission’s Radicalisation Awareness Network (RAN) where he focuses on the functionality of extremist and conspiracy narratives. Twitter: @alexRitzmann

© 2023 Alexander Ritzmann

Substantive Notes
[a] The power grid has been a target of violent extremists elsewhere in the West—for example, far-right extremists in the United States. “How the US power grid is a target for far-right groups,” BBC, March 10, 2023.

[1] A. Ginzel, J. Klaus, H. Merker, N. Metzger, and U. Stoll, “Reichsbürger-Putsch gegen die Demokratie,” ZDF, December 12, 2022.

[2] See, for example, Maik Baumgärtner, Jörg Diehl, Roman Höfner, Martin Knobbe, Matthias Gebauer, Tobias Großekemper, Roman Lehberger, Ann-Katrin Müller, Sven Röbel, Fidelius Schmid, and Wolf Wiedmann-Schmidt, “The Motley Crew that Wanted to Topple the German Government,” Spiegel International, December 10, 2022, and Lars Wienand, “‘Exil-Kanzler’ sollte Post für Putin überbringen,” t-online, December 29, 2022.

[3] Baumgärtner et al.; Matthias Halbig, “Radikalisiert sich der Adel?” rnd, December 12, 2022.

[4] For more on Querdenken, see Daniel H. Heinke, “The Security Threat Posed by the Corona-skeptic Querdenken Movement in Germany,” CTC Sentinel 15:3 (2022).

[5] “25 Suspected Members and Supporters of a Terrorist Organisation Arrested and Raids Conducted in 11 Federal States against 52 Suspects in Total,” Federal Prosecutor General, December 7, 2022.

[6] See, for example, Florian Flade, “Was nach der Razzia kommt,” Tagesschau, February 15, 2023.

[7] Ibid.

[8] Parliamentary question by Martina Renner et al., “Durchsuchungen gegen sogenannte Reichsbürger im Dezember 2022,” Deutscher Bundestag, February 2023.

[9] “Russland bestreitet Verbindung zu ‘Reichsbürgern,’” Der Spiegel, December 7, 2022.

[10] Ibid.

[11] Ibid.

[12] Henry Bernhard, “Der erste selbsternannte ‘Reichsbürger,’” Deutschlandfunk Kultur, December 14, 2022.

[13] Ibid.

[14] Jan Rathje, “Wir sind wieder da – Die ‘Reichsbürger’:Überzeugungen, Gefahren und Handungsstrategien,” Amadeu Antonio Stiftung, June 1, 2014.

[15] See Bernhard.

[16] See Rathje.

[17] “‘Reichsbürger’ und ‘Selbstverwalter’ – eine zunehmende Gefahr?” German Federal Ministry of the Interior, n.d.

[18] See, for example, Dirk Wilking, “‘Reichsbürger’ Ein Handbuch,” Demos – Brandenburgisches Institut für emeinwesenberatung 3 (2017): p. 57.

[19] “‘Reichsbürger’ und ‘Selbstverwalter’ – eine zunehmende Gefahr?”

[20] Parliamentary question by Irene Mihalic et al., ”Reichsbürger – Anhaltspunkte für eine Bewegung in Waffen,” Deutscher Bundestag, February 2017.

[21] Thomas Helbing, “Reichsbürger Terrorismus?” Institut für Demokratie und Zivilgesellschaft, January 6, 2020.

[22] See, for example, Baumgärtner et al.

[23] Heinke.

[24] Ibid.

[25] Felix W. Zimmermann, “‘Sturm’ auf den Reichstag ohne Konsequenzen?” Legal Tribune online, June 22, 2022.

[26] Parliamentary question by Sevim Dagdelen et al., “70 Jahre Potsdamer Abkommen,” Deutsche Bundestag, June 2015.

[27] See, for example, Maximilian Amos, “Die Staatsleugner,“ Legal Tribune Online, November 22, 2016.

[28] “Zum rechtlichen Fortbestand des ‘Deutschen Reichs,’” Wissenschaftliche Dienste des Deutschen Bundestages, 2007.

[29] See, for example, Amos.

[30] Jan-Gerrit Keil, “Zur Abgrenzung des Milieus der ‘Reichsbürger’ – Pathologisierung des Politischen und Politisierung des Pathologischen,” Forens Psychiatr Psychol Kriminol 15:3 (2021): pp. 255-273.

[31] Arie W. Kruglanski, Jocelyn J. Bélanger, and Rohan Gunaratna, The Three Pillars of Radicalization: Needs, Narratives, and Networks (New York: Oxford University Press, 2019).

[32] Sven Röbel, “Reichsbürger Heinrich XIII. Prinz Reuß wollte für eine Million Euro Land vom Bund kaufen,” Spiegel Politik, January 6, 2023.

[33] Jan D. Walter, “Der ‘verwirrte Mann’, der das ‘Deutsche Reich’ regieren wollte,” Deutsche Welle, December 9, 2022.

[34] Helbing.

[35] Ibid.

[36] Ibid.

[37] Ibid.

[38] Verena Fiebig and Daniel Köhler, “Taten, Täter, Opfer,” Ministerium für Inneres, Digitalisierung und Migration Baden-Württemberg, September 2019.

[39] Ibid.

[40] “Lebenslange Freiheitsstrafe für ‘Reichsbürger,’” Spiegel Panorama, October 23, 2017.

[41] “Bundesinnenminister Seehofer verbietet mit ‘Geeinte deutsche Völker und Stämme’ erstmals Reichsbürgervereinigung,” German Federal Ministry of the Interior, March 19, 2020.

[42] “Vereinsverbote,“ German Federal Ministry of the Interior, n.d.

[43] “‘Reichsbürger’ und ‘Selbstverwalter’ – eine zunehmende Gefahr?”; “Verfassungsschutzbericht 2021,” German Federal Ministry of the Interior, June 2021, p. 103.

[44] Parliamentary question by Martina Renner et al., “Waffenbesitz und Waffeneinsatz von und durch Neonazis und Reichsbürger/Selbstverwalter,” Deutscher Bundestag, February 2023.

[45] Ibid.

[46] Ibid.

[47] “Anklage statt Lauterbach-Entführung,” TAZ.de, January 23, 2023.

[48] Ibid.

[49] See Keil.

[50] See, for example, Annika Leister, “Das ist unglaublich erschreckend,” t-online, December 2022.

[51] Parliamentary question by Martina Renner et al., “Durchsuchungen gegen sogenannte Reichsbürger im December 2022,” Deutscher Bundestag, February 2023.

[52] See, for example, David Vilentchik, “Merz: Umsturzpläne der ‘Reichsbürger’-Szene kein Kabarett,” Berliner Zeitung, December 2022.

[53] Ibid.

[54] “Aussprache nach ‘Reichsbürger’-Razzia: Harte Kritik an der AfD,” Deutscher Bundestag, December 2022.

[55] See, for example, Jonas Mueller-Töwe, “Union will Durchstechereien bei ‘Reichsbürger’-Razzia aufklären,” t-online, December 2022.

[56] See, for example, Julia Klaus, “Wusste Verschwörer-Oberst von Razzia?” zdf heute, December 2022.

[57] Jonas Mueller-Töwe, “Die ‘Reichsbürger’-Affäre,” t-online, December 10, 2022.

[58] “25 Suspected Members and Supporters of a Terrorist Organisation Arrested and Raids Conducted in 11 Federal States against 52 Suspects in Total.”

[59] Ibid.

[60] “Durchsuchungen gegen sogenannte Reichsbürger im December 2022.”

[61] See, for example, Flade.

[62] “Durchsuchungen gegen sogenannte Reichsbürger im December 2022.”

[63] Bundeskriminalamt, “Risikobewertungsinstrument RADAR (Regelbasierte Analyse potentiell destruktiver Täter zur Einschätzung des akuten Risikos),” n.d.

[64] “U.S. Violent Extremist Mobilization Indicators 2021,” National Counterterrorism Center, Federal Bureau of Investigation, and Department of Homeland Security, January 27, 2022.

[65] Ibid.

[66] “Nach Razzia gegen Reichsbürger – BKA-Chef Münch erwartet weitere Beschuldigte,” ZDF, December 8, 2022.

[67] See, for example, Baumgärtner et al.

[68] See, for example, Wilking.

[69] See, for example, “Verfassungsschutzbericht Sachsen: Amadeu Antonio Stiftung mahnt, Reichsbürger-Ideologie ernster zu nehmen,” Amadeu Antonio Stiftung, May 17, 2019.

[70] “Durchsuchungen in der Prepperszene,” Polizei Bayern, February 22, 2023.

[71] Ibid.

[72] Axel Hemmerling, Nadja Malak, Monique Junker, Ludwig Kendzia, and Bastian Wierzioch, “Großrazzia: Gruppe soll Staatsumsturz geplant haben – Reußen-Prinz in Haft,” MDR Thüringen, December 8, 2022.

[73] Christian Fuchs, Frederik Mittendorff, Christina Schmidt, Martín Steinhagen, and Sascha Venohr, “Wer ist der Schütze von Reutlingen?” ZEIT online, March 22, 2023.

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