German authorities ordered the detention of 23 persons on Thursday as part of their investigation into a far right group accused by prosecutors trying to take over Germany’s state and install a member from a German royal house as its national leader.
Investigators believe the group was many of the Reichsbuerger movement (Citizens of the Reich) and planned to make Heinrich XIII PrinzReuss the leader of a new nation. They also found evidence of members planning to seize the German parliament.
Heinrich was 71 years old and a descendant from the royal House Reuss of eastern Thuringia. He worked as a real-estate developer. On Wednesday, Heinrich was taken into custody in Frankfurt as part of a raid on the group. This arrest shocked many people in Europe’s largest and most stable democracy.
Heinrich XIV, who lives in Austria and is now the House of Reuss’s head, has disowned this plot.
Heinrich XIV said that this reflected catastrophically on his family, MDR. He was speaking of a distant relative with whom he claimed he hadn’t had contact in 10 years.
“For over 850 years, we have been, I believe, a warm, welcoming, and cosmopolitan Royal House in East Thuringia. Now, we are terrorists and reactionaries around the globe, even all the way to America. He added that it was “quite terrible”.
A spokesperson for the Interior Ministry said that raids on the Reichsbuerger’s home in Germany the day before, which saw 25 detained in Germany, Austria, and Italy, was one of the largest “executive actions” ever taken against him.
“The greatest consequence is that everybody knows we have a strong state and democracy, whose security organs are capable of entering and countering such crimes and plans,” said Chancellor Olaf Scholz at a Thursday night news conference.
Two people from outside Germany were also arrested and are being held in addition to the 23 already in custody. The suspects include right-wingers and COVID denier as well as people who oppose the new German state.
In the days ahead, more arrests will be made. Holger Muench of the Federal Police Office stated to broadcaster ARD that there are now 54 suspects.
The raids of Wednesday were conducted across eleven German Federal States, shocking many people in the country.
It’s hard to understand: I hear of such plans in other countries, but it would be impossible for me to see this happening at my door. Melanie Merle lives near the Frankfurt apartment where Heinrich was detained.
Prosecutors claimed that the conspiracy theories of Germany’s Reichsbuerger, and QAnon inspired the group. Their advocates were also among the people arrested following the January 2021 storming at the U.S. Capitol.
The Reichsbuerger does not recognize modern-day Germany or its borders as legitimate states. Many are loyal to the “Reich”, an old German monarchy. Others also believe in Nazi ideology and that Germany is currently under military occupation.
Thuringia police searched the Waidmannsheil hunting cabin in Bad Lobenstein on Thursday. It was believed to be Heinrich’s.
According to the deputy mayor of the town, a letter was sent out to inform residents that their German passports weren’t valid.
Andree Burkhardt said that all citizens in Bad Lobenstein were sent a letter telling them they were not German, because their passports weren’t German.
We were given an opportunity to file for German citizenship documents through the Reuss administration. He said that this caused a great outcry in the community.
Prosecutors said that among the detained was a former member of Alternative For Germany (AfD), a far-right lawmaker.
Georg Maier, Thuringia’s interior minister, singled out AfD as an interface for right wing extremists. He said it promoted what he described as fantasies of toppling state.
Maier is from the Social Democratic Party of Chancellor Olaf Scholz and said, “People are afraid, and The AfD takes advantage and offers simple solutions.”
In a Wednesday statement, the AfD stated that it had condemned far-right groups’ efforts. It also expressed confidence in authorities’ ability and capability to resolve the matter.