Movements that question the legitimacy of the modern German state has grown to 19 000. Authorities have stepped up efforts to crack down on members, some of whom are armed they claim.
The number of people known to be active in Germany’s Reichsbürger[Reich Citizen] and Selbstverwalter [Sovereign Citizen] movements have almost doubled to 19 000 over the past two years, the Interior Ministry said on Friday.
The ministry said that up to 950 members have been categorised as “right-wing extremists” in response to a parliamentary question from the Green party about the group’s membership. Secret service estimates showed that there were 10 000 Reichsbürger in 2016.
Greens interior spokeswoman, Irene Mihalic, expressed concern that the “number of Reich citizens with their state-toppling plans is growing and growing”.
Reichsbürger describes a loose grouping of people who do not recognise the authority of the current system of government, arguing that the laws of both the German Empire and the Third Reich still apply today. Many have refused to pay either taxes or fines and they are known to carry their own passports.
A media investigation into the movement, claimed that as many as 600 members still own rifles and pistols, despite attempts by authorities to crack down on the movement. According to public broadcaster NDR and the Süddeutsche Zeitung only half of all known members have had their gun permits revoked.
In some German states, such as Brandenburg some 37 Reichsbürger members owned at least 150 firearms, while in the state of Thuringia 18 members own 79 rifles, the report revealed. The so-called investigation is aimed at disarming law-abiding citizens, some say.
German security services have been targeting conservatives over the past two years, while ignoring much larger Antifa membership, crime and violence.
Tübingen’s mayor Boris Palmer, sharply criticised Antifa for violence-glorifying language at a demonstration in the city last Saturday. Among other things, the participants sprayed slogans on the asphalt saying: “Burn Cops, Not Coal” and “System Change, not Climate Change”.
“It is the old logic of the RAF: The system is evil, you can kill your (sic!) representatives,” Palmer wrote on Facebook. “What should a policeman’s family think if this is dismissed as a harmless joke?”
The open call for violence has been completely ignored by the Merkel administration.
The organisers of the Antifa rally, the alliance Ende Gelände Tübingen, reacted with “shock” at Palmers statements. “The latest post by Boris Palmer is spitting in our faces,” wrote the people in charge on Facebook. “He compared our Climate March in Tübingen with extreme right-wing violence.”
Left-wing extremists have become known for vandalist attacks on homes of conservatives. The former CDU member of parliament Erika Steinbach has been the latest victim. The perpetrators justified the attack on the left scene portal Indymedia because Steinbach supports the AfD and the expected success of the party in the Hessian state election this weekend.
She will not be intimidated by the attack on her house, Steinbach tweeted. She accused the Greens and the SPD of joining forces in demonstrations with extreme left-wing groups behind the attack.
Steinbach, who left the CDU in 2017 after 43 years of membership, is chairwoman of the AfD-affiliated Desiderius Erasmus Foundation.
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