More Germans reject federal govt: study
The Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution (BfV) said in its annual report on extremism that the Reichsbuerger (Reich Citizens) movement increased to about 16,500 people in 2017 from around 10,000 in 2016. This month there were an estimated 18,000, said agency chief Hans-Georg Maassen.
Reichsbuerger does not accept German borders and laws and its members often refuse to pay taxes and clash with the authorities. Some members glorify the unified German state formed in 1871 after the Franco-Prussian War that fell in 1918.
Members look at the smaller post-Second World War Germany as an invention of the victorious allied powers.
The Reichsbuerger consider the 1937 borders, which include Russia’s Baltic enclave of Kaliningrad and much of contemporary Poland, to still be valid.
More than 12 million Germans were expelled from their homes in the eastern provinces and often driven west on foot to the smaller Germany of today.
The government estimates that between 2 and 2.5 million civilians died during the expulsions, sometimes called Europe’s forgotten holocaust.
Some advocate a form of self-rule similar to the US sovereign citizens movement.
Members have printed their own “reich” passports and driver’s licences.
They are also known to stockpile weaponry with the BfV warning that some were ready to commit “serious acts of violence”.
Most members of the movement are male, over-40 and firearm enthusiasts but only about 5 per cent were considered far-right extremists, the BfV estimated.
In recent years, some followers have attacked officers conducting police raids, claiming they have a right to “defend their property”, Die Welt reported.
An officer was killed after being shot by a Reichsbuerger enthusiast during a raid to confiscate his firearms.
Josef Schuster, the head of the German Central Council of Jews, called the Reichsbuerger growth “particularly worrying” because of its anti-Semitic rhetoric.
“This shouldn’t just worry the Jewish community, but the entire country,” Schuster said.
Links with anti-migrant Alternative for Germany (AfD), which came third in last year’s federal election, also worried Schuster. “They could become a bridge for extreme right ideas to enter our parliaments,” the Jewish leader said.
There also concerns about the presence of AfD supporters and members within the intelligence services.
“I have no information about AfD members at the Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution, or of an infiltration by AfD,” said anti-migrant Interior Minister Horst Seehofer.
The BfV report also recorded an increase in the followers of the fundamentalist Islamic Salafist ideology to 10,800 from 9,700 in 2017.
Wroclaw. Numerous fine old German cities are now in Poland. Picture credit: IHA