A far-right group accused of plotting to overthrow the German government and install a prince as ruler had plans to build its own army after the coup was complete, prosecutors have revealed today.
The gang – allegedly led by 71-year-old Heinrich XIII, Prince of Reuss – had already devised how the post-coup state would be organised with both a military and civil branch that would be split into ministries, German officials said.
Heinrich would lead the civil branch as head of a central ‘Council’ that was due to include judge and former AfD member of the Bundestag Birgit Malsack-Winkemann, 58, as head of the justice department, it is alleged.
Meanwhile the military arm – led by a 69-year-old former paratrooper named only as Rüdiger v. P – would be responsible for establishing a new army recruited from the ranks of the current Bundeswehr defence force and police, it is claimed.
Henrich XIII, Prince of Reuss, has been identified as one of 25 people arrested and accused of plotting a far-right coup against the German government
Henrich XIII is thought to have been arrested at his home in the state of Thuringia, where his family own lands, with police raiding a ‘forest palace’
Henrich was said to have headed a plot that called for the violent overthrow of the German state and the establishment of a new Reich with him as monarch
Rüdiger and his subordinates are accused of scouting three current Bundeswehr bases in Hesse, Baden-Württemberg and Bavaria to see whether they could be used to station their own troops after the uprising had taken place.
They were also tasked with procuring weapons and training people how to use them – and had legally acquired several guns and put ‘recruits’ through target practice, it is claimed.
At least four recruitment meetings took place during the summer of 2022 to try and draw people into the ranks, according to prosecutors, who said another session happened in November.
These recruits were to assist in the uprising and then form ‘homeland security companies’ who would be responsible for hunting down and eliminating remnants of the ‘deep state’ which the group think is secretly in charge of Germany.
Rüdiger and his lieutenants were charged with providing them accommodation and catering, as well as setting up bugproof IT networks they could use to communicate, it is alleged.
While ideologies within the group varied, German officials say they were broadly far-right and broadly fell under the banner of the Reichsbürger – or ‘Reich Citizen’ – movement.
Those involved in the group believe the German state is an illegitimate fabrication, and is actually a ‘company’ run by foreign agents.
They often claim to be immune to modern laws based on bogus historical legal precedent, and aim to achieve emancipation from the state while re-establishing the Reich which controlled the country from 1871 to 1945.
Federal prosecutors said Heinrich – a real estate entrepreneur – had contacted Russian officials with the aim of negotiating a new order once the German government was overthrown.
He was allegedly assisted in this by a Russian woman, Vitalia B.
The Russian embassy in Berlin has since denied having links to the group.
‘The Russian Embassy in Germany draws attention to the fact that Russian diplomatic and consular offices in Germany do not maintain contacts with representatives of terrorist groups or other illegal entities,’ the embassy said.
Coup plotters had already selected who would be in charge of various ministries within the new government, Bild reports. The group had outlined who would fill various departments of the ‘council’ – such as justice, foreign affairs and health.
A man called Thomas T. has been named by authorities as Heinrich’s adviser, while Judge Birgit Malsack-Winkemann, Paul G., Ruth L., René R. and Melanie R. were in-line to head the departments of the ‘council’, in the event of a takeover.
Waidmannsheil castle in Saaldorf is one of the locations owned by Heinrich XIII which is said to have been used by far right extremists to plot a takeover of Germany’s parliament
German special police forces patrol and search the area in Bad Lobenstein, Thuringia, after anti-terror raids across the country today
3,000 German officers were involved in raids on 130 locations across Germany (pictured) including a forest palace in the state of Thuringia – ancestral seat of the House of Reuss
Among those arrested were a 69-year-old former paratrooper named Ruediger v. P. and AfD ex-member of the Bundestag and Berlin judge Birgit Malsack-Winkemann, 58 (pictured in 2018 speaking in the German Bundestag)
The group also planned to have a ‘military arm’ of the ‘council’, Bild said.
Investigators said the group had acquired a number of legally-purchased guns, and that former soldiers of the Bundeswehr were involved in the plans, Bild reported, which have been ongoing since at least November 2021.
The chief of the so-called ‘military arm’ has been named as Ruediger v. P. , the former lieutenant colonel, who was until April 1996 a commander of paratrooper battalion 251 in Baden-Württemberg.
The group’s military arm had already set up ‘homeland security companies’, that Bild reported had been working to procure new weapons and other equipment, while setting up bug-proof lines of communication between the group’s members. The group was also making plans for future accommodation.
One of its chief aims was to recruit police officers and members of the armed forces.
Authorities were tipped off to the existence of the group after a suspicious note was intercepted at the end of August this year.
Suspects were arrested in the German states of Baden-Wuerttemberg, Bavaria, Berlin, Hesse, Lower Saxony, Saxony, Thuringia as well as in Austria and Italy.
Der Spiegel reported that locations searched include the barracks of Germany’s special forces unit KSK in the southwestern town of Calw.
An active KSK soldier was among those arrested with his office and apartment at the barracks searched, Bild said. The newspaper added that the group had scouted out the barracks in October 2022.
The unit has been scrutinised over alleged far-right involvement in the past.
Police lead away a suspect, identified by German media as former AfD city councilor Christian W., after raids across the country today
Die Welt reports the group had inspected a number of Bundeswehr barracks ‘for the accommodation of their own troops’ once the coup was completed.
Prosecutors said those detained formed a ‘terrorist organisation with the goal of overturning the existing state order in Germany and replace it with their own form of state, which was already in the course of being founded.’
The suspects were aware that their aim could only be achieved by military means and with force, prosecutors added.
Some of the group’s members had made ‘concrete preparations’ to storm Parliament with a small armed group, the prosecutors said.
‘The details (of this plan) still need to be investigated’ to determine whether any of the suspects can be charged with treason, they said.
The group is alleged to have believed in a ‘conglomerate of conspiracy theories consisting of narratives from the so-called Reich Citizens as well as QAnon ideology,’ according to the statement.
Prosecutors added that members of the group also believe Germany is ruled by a so-called ‘deep state’.
The group are said to have believed that an alliance of governments, intelligence services and armies of other states were also planning an uprising against this ‘secret society’ in the near future.
Once the ‘alliance’ attack was over, the group planned to establish ‘homeland security companies’ to hunt down any remnants of the ‘deep state’.
Malsack-Winkemann was to become the head of the judiciary in the new government, Die Welt reports.
Police raid a property in Frankfurt early Wednesday on the hunt for alleged plotters of a coup to overthrow the government and bring back a monarch
Police officers are pictured during anti-terror raids in the German capital of Berlin
A car workshop in the Ore Mountains is searched by police, one of 130 raids carried out across Germany today in search of an alleged far-right terror group
The new government was to be headed by a ‘Council’ who had already been chosen with Heinrich at its head, the newspaper adds.
Members had allegedly been using Heinrich’s hunting lodge, named Waidmannsheil and located near the town of Bad Lobenstein, for their meetings.
Prosecutors said 22 German citizens were detained on suspicion of ‘membership in a terrorist organisation.’
Three other people, including a Russian citizen, are suspected of supporting the organisation, they said.
Prosecutors said that one person was detained in the Austrian town of Kitzbuehel and another in the Italian city of Perugia.
It appears the arrested Prince Heinrich claims descent from the House of Reuss which existed in Germany from the early 11th century until the abolition of the monarchy in 1918.
All male descendants of this house were named Heinrich after Henry VI, Holy Roman Emperor, to whom they owed their titles and lands.
Each Heinrich was given a number after their name which went from 1 to 100 and then restarted from the beginning – meaning that, though there have been many Heinrichs through history, it is possible for a Heinrich XIII to be alive today.
In 1778 Heinrich XI was elevated to princely status, after which all of his male heirs also used the title.
The house maintained lands in the modern-day state of Thuringa, with German press saying police raided a palace in the same state today.
Prosecutors say the plotters planned a violent overthrow of the government to re-establish the German Reich with Heinrich as its head
Plotters had devised a new government structure and appointed heads of ministries within it, prosecutors said, and had reached out to Russian officials for help
The Reichsbürger movement – which translates as ‘Reich Citizen’ – is a loose alliance of largely far-right groups and ideologies united in the belief that the German state as it exists today is illegitimate.
Many regard the state as a ‘company’ controlled by foreign powers, and argue the laws of the state therefore do not apply to them.
Similar movements exist in many countries such as ‘freemen’ in the UK who claim they are not bound by the modern state or its laws and instead draw their rights from the Magna Carta.
Sinead Quinn, a hairdresser from Bradford, was fined almost £20,000 for opening her salon during the Covid pandemic claiming the Magna Carta exempted her from lockdown legislation.
In America they go by the name of sovereign citizens and many also believe the government is really a company run by foreign agents.
They use a variety of bogus legal tactics to try and emancipate themselves from this company, and have =used violence against agents of the state such as police.
In May 2010 a father-son team of sovereigns murdered two police officers with an assault rifle when they were pulled over while travelling through Arkansas.