30 August 2020   Leave a comment

Several hundred protesters stormed into the German Reichstag building, breaking through a security barrier before they were finally repulsed by police. Many of the protesters were demonstrating against the restrictions imposed upon them to held stem the spread of COVID-19. But many of the protesters were members of the Reichsbürger movement which denies the legitimacy of the modern German state. The movement is difficult to define:

“As matters stand now, Reichsbürger cannot be classified as an organization — not yet. So far, the group is loosely structured with multiple autonomous groups, including “Königreich Deutschland” (The German Kingdom), “Das deutsche Polizeihilfswerk” (The German Police Relieve Agency) or “Reichsbewegung- neue Gemeinschaft von Philosophen” (Reichsmovement – new community of philosophers).

“Because the movement is made up of various splinter groups, it is difficult to assess the actual number of Reichsbürger members. The BfV classified around 18,000 individuals as Reichsbürger in 2018, and recent years have observed increased activity online suggesting that the number of adherents to the Reichsbürger ideology is growing.

“What unites the Reichsbürger is their shared system of belief. A large part of their ideological foundation revolves around the narrative that the Federal Republic of Germany does not exist and is not an actual state. To them, the German Reich did not perish in 1945 and remains the legitimate German authority, while the Federal Republic as an illegitimate creature of foreign occupation and exploitation. They believe that because there has never been an official peace treaty, the occupation continues until this day, with the Federal Republic an instrument of the Allied powers that allows Germans the illusion of independence and democracy. According to the Reichsbürger, Merkel, her cabinet, as well as parliament, the judiciary, and the security agencies are all puppets installed and controlled by foreigners.”

The movement was not taken seriously until 2016 when one of its members killed a German police officer. It represents an extreme version of nationalism, a position which is becoming increasingly common in many countries: Brexit is one such manifestation, as is the BJP in India, and in the Sovereign Citizens Movement in the US. At this time, German authorities estimate that there are about 16,000 members of the Reichsbürger movement, but the numbers seem to be increasing every year.

The retreat into “blood and soil” nationalism in many countries in the world is deeply troubling, although it is in many respects a countermovement to globalization. But these intense nationalist movements usually have a bad end since they tend to be deeply paranoid and exclusive.

One of the many Reichsbürger flags–a chilling image

Posted August 30, 2020 by vferraro1971 in World Politics

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