On Wednesday, German police raided 25 homes of 31 suspects who allegedly belong to the Reichsbürger movement, and confiscated machetes, hunting slingshots with metal pellets, handguns, firearm ammunition and a crossbow with a telescopic sight, Deutsche Welle reported Thursday. One suspect reportedly hoarded 700 knives and 190 axes in his apartment.
Reichsbürgerbewegung (“Reich Citizens’ Movement”) or Reichsbürger (“Reich Citizens”) is a label for several groups and individuals in Germany and elsewhere who reject the legitimacy of the Federal Republic of Germany. They are connected to a far-right and anti-Semitic ideology.
German Interior Minister Horst Seehofer told a press conference in Berlin on Wednesday that Germany had seen a rise both far-right and far-left crimes in 2019. German police recorded more than 41,000 cases of politically motivated crime in 2019, more than half of them attributed to the far-right. Authorities recorded 2,032 anti-Semitic crimes, a rise of 13% over 2018. This is the highest figure since Germans started looking once again at Jew hatred.
According to Deutsche Welle, 93.4% of the 2019 anti-Semitic crimes were carried out by far-right individuals. Seehofer also pointed out that 90.1% of anti-Muslim crimes were also perpetrated by the far-right. Anti-Muslim crimes in Germany rose by 4% in 2019, to 950 cases.
Official data show that 36.8% of far-right crimes involve “propaganda offenses,” 13.7% are “racist hate speech,” 4.9% property damage, and 4.4% violence against people.
In 2017, the German FBI, Bundesverfassungsschutz (Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution) estimated the number of people affiliated with the Reichsbürger movement at 12,600. But agency has since admitted that the heterogeneity of the movement, and the division into many small cells independent of one another, makes it difficult to account for the real number of active Reichsbürgers.
Local police are suspected of sympathizing with this proto-fascist movement, and in October 2016, a Bavarian police officer was suspended over his connections to a Reichsbürger group. There have been similar allegations against other police officers in different German states.