Far-right in Germany: Public sector workers identified as Reichsbürger | News | DW | 09.03.2018
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Far-right in Germany: Public sector workers identified as Reichsbürger

The radical "Reichsbürger" movement does not recognize modern-day Germany. Authorities have now identified four members of the far-right group employed by the state of Hesse, including one in the Culture Ministry.

Authorities in the German state of Hesse announced on Friday that they had identified four suspected members of the radical "Reichsbürger" group, roughly translated as "Citizens of the Reich."

One of the suspects was employed as a temporary worker at a school while another worked at Hesse's Culture Ministry. The school worker has since been dismissed while the civil servant faces disciplinary proceedings, according to local reports.

Read more: Far-right Reichsbürger movement much larger than initially estimated

The other two suspects worked at local authority level.

The Reichsbürger movement refuses to recognize the modern-day Federal Republic of Germany. It instead subscribes to the idea that the 1937 borders of the German Empire still exist and that Germany today is an administrative construct occupied by the Western powers.

Armed and dangerous in Hesse

According to Hesse authorities, some 1,000 Reichsbürger currently live in the state. Of those:

  • Around half are over the age of 50
  • A quarter are female
  • Almost 18 percent have a clear affiliation with the right-wing extremist scene
  • Eighty-four possess a license to own firearms, while half of those actually own a least one rifle. Officials are looking at repossessing the weapons of 36 suspects, while 14 have already had their weapons confiscated

It's not the first time that Reichsbürger have been uncovered within the public sector. In October 2016, a police officer in Bavaria was suspended for his suspected ties to the movement, while Saxony's state premier announced the following month that there were three suspected members in the state's police force.

A self-governing threat

According to German intelligence services, the Reichsbürger movement boasts around 15,600 members. Around 900 have been identified as far-right extremists, while 1,000 have a license to bear firearms.

While easily dismissed as crackpots, many Reichsbürger ascribe to right-wing, anti-Semitic and Nazi ideologies. The movement gained significant traction after a member shot dead a policeman in Bavaria in October 2016.

In January, German news magazine Focus reported that the group was trying to build up an army ahead of what they dubbed to be a "day of reckoning."

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