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Bavaria calls for increased tracking of 'Reichsbürger' extremists

After a deadly shootout, the government of Bavaria is asking for increased surveillance on supporters of the "Reichsbürger" movement. Members do not recognize the authority of the German state.

The Bavarian government wants more surveillance on the far-right "Reichsbürger" movement, German media reported on Sunday, despite federal security services openly electing not to do so.

Although Germany's domestic intelligence services have said that the 100 or so members of the movement, who do not recognize Berlin's authority, are not dangerous, there have been multiple attacks by Reichsbürger members on police officers this week, including one fatality.

"The Reichsbürger movement includes people who have been radicalized from discontent with the government to a real hatred for the state," the leader of Bavaria's intelligence agency, Burkhard Körner, told German news agency DPA.

"They aren't all extremists that we're seeing in the scene, but some of the people in it are certainly dangerous," he added.

Turning back the clock

The Reichsbürger movement promotes the idea that all German governments since the election of Adolf Hitler as chancellor have been illegitimate, and therefore the movement does not recognize the authority of the state - and its police officers. Members of the movement believe that the borders of Germany should be those that existed prior to World War II.

Their ideology makes them hard to pin down, as most of them are assumed to be nationalists but not necessarily neo-Nazis. Indeed, when two police officers were punched and kicked by a Reichsbürger married couple in Saxony-Anhalt earlier this week, the assailants accused the policemen of being Nazis themselves.

The incident in Saxony-Anhalt followed an even more violent one in Bavaria, when one officer was killed and three others were wounded in a raid on the house of a Reichsbürger member in the town of Georgensgmünd. A firefight ensued after the officers came to repossess firearms the suspect was deemed unfit to continue owning. The man was wounded and taken into custody in the course of the shootout.

Illegal weapons ownership amongst Reichsbürger members is what worries some police officers the most, according to local news outlet "Der Westen." Reichsbürger members have taken to making themselves fake ID cards, many of which proclaim them to be citizens of the "Kingdom of Germany."

According to "Der Westen," Germany's national police union, DPolG, has called for stronger measures to prevent the movement's members from making these IDs and more importantly, barring Reichsbürger supporters from purchasing weapons.

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