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'Reichsbürger' far-right couple attack police

October 21, 2016

Following a deadly shootout in Bavaria, another incident involving extremists saw police attacked in Saxony-Anhalt. Members of the "Reichsbürger" movement refused to accept the authority of the German government.

Polizei Sachsen-Anhalt
Image: picture alliance/dpa

The same day a Bavarian policeman died after a shootout with a far-right extremist, police in the eastern state of Saxony-Anhalt were attacked by assailants also belonging to the "Reichsbürger" movement, German media reported on Friday.

Two officers in the town of Salzwedel were struck by a 43-year-old man and his 34-year-old wife after the pair refused to be escorted out of the town square. They called the police officers "Nazis" and continued to throw punches, landing one of the officers in the hospital to be treated for minor injuries.

The "Reichsbürger" movement has received renewed press in recent days after an incident in the southern town of Georgensgmünd which saw three officers wounded and a third killed. The self-proclaimed "Reichsbürger" do not recognize the authority of the German state, and believe the borders of Germany are those that existed prior to the Second World War. They allege that Germany remains occupied by the Allied Forces.

Reichsbürger Symbolbild
Members of the movement say they are citizens of the "Königreich Deutschland" or the Kingdom of Germany that existed before Adolf Hitler took powerImage: picture-alliance/dpa/H. Schmidt

Berlin's state intelligence recently described the group as "an extremely diverse range of small groups and individuals who believe in an ideological mixture of conspiracy theories, anti-Semitic and anti-democratic views, and who have been behaving increasingly aggressively for some time."

Security services will not track 'Reichsbürger'

Although they are nationalists, they are not considered neo-Nazis, and not all of them are right-wing extremists, according to German authorities. According to the Kölner Stadt-Anzeiger newspaper, this means the security services do not intend to surveil them, as they only believe there to be about 100 active "Reichsbürger" members in Germany and that most of them are not dangerous.

But in Bavaria on Wednesday, an encounter with one member of the movement did indeed turn out to be deadly. A 32-year-old officer was killed and three others wounded, one severely, in a gun fight. The officers had intended to raid the 49-year-old man's house to relieve him of weapons he had been deemed unfit to continue possessing.

The suspect was lightly wounded and taken into custody in the course of the raid. Bavaria's Interior Minister Joachim Herrmann warned that, while small in number, the "Reichsbürger" should not be dismissed as merely an "association of crackpots." 

Elizabeth Schumacher
Elizabeth Schumacher Elizabeth Schumacher reports on gender equity, immigration, poverty and education in Germany.