More shocking details of German right-wing coup plot emerge

Berlin, Germany - An active soldier, a Berlin judge, and a member of a noble family are among dozens of suspects detained on Wednesday during nationwide raids targeting a right-wing extremist group that allegedly aimed to overthrow the German government.

Police escort a detained suspect in the German city of Karlsruhe.
Police escort a detained suspect in the German city of Karlsruhe.  © REUTERS

One suspect belonging to an unnamed terrorist movement linked to the so-called Reich Citizens was arrested as far away as Italy.

Followers of the Reichsbürger ideology, which is fuelled by conspiracy theories, often believe in the continued existence of Imperial or Nazi Germany, under a German Reich based on pre-World War II borders.

Reichsbürger fundamentally reject the state, its elected representatives and the entire legal system, according to Germany's domestic intelligence agency.

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Also among the suspects is a Berlin judge and former member of parliament for the far-right Alternative for Germany party, Birgit Malsack-Winkemann. She would no longer carry out her normal judicial duties, the court said on Wednesday.

One of the ringleaders, now in custody, is Heinrich XIII, who goes under the title Prince Reuss of Greiz.

The 71-year-old businessman from the central state of Hesse is said to have been the chairman of the group's central committee, with the aim of becoming a "future head of state" if there was a coup. He had allegedly tried to contact Russian officials as part of his apparent attempt to install himself as leader.

The Kremlin on Wednesday denied any role in the movement.

Right-wing extremists aimed to "eliminate the existing state order"

German police stand in front of a building raided in Frankfurt.
German police stand in front of a building raided in Frankfurt.  © REUTERS

The members had founded the conspiratorial group by the end of November 2021 at the latest.

It was apparently highly organized, with a decision-making "council," including departments such as justice, foreign affairs and health.

"The members of the 'council' had met regularly in secret since November 2021 to plan the intended takeover of power in Germany and the establishment of their own state structures," the federal prosecutor's office said.

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In addition to the 'council,' the group apparently had a military arm. "This military arm is there to build up a new German army," Germany's Attorney General Peter Frank told reporters in Karlsruhe.

"According to our findings, the aim of the association is to eliminate the existing state order in Germany, the basic free democratic order, using violence and military means," Frank said.

He added that they were also motivated by the "QAnon ideology."

Cover photo: REUTERS

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