After this suspected coup plans became known, there is currently a lot of talk about the citizens of the Reich. What is it really?
On closer inspection, the word Reichsbürger is a misleading term for this heterogeneous field of ideology. There are four main currents. On the one hand, there are sovereignists. They believe that Germany is not sovereign and that the German state does not exist. They want to change that. Second, there are the so-called independent administrators. Literally: Puts a fence around his property and decides: this is my kingdom now, I am the king here and the laws of the Federal Republic do not apply here and I can use force to defend myself against anyone who invades here.
Third, there is the classic setting of the citizens of the Reich. They create imperial governments with their own constitutions. There is a lot of racist and anti-Semitic conspiracy ideologies floating around. For example, that the German state is actually just a GmbH. The argument is that you have an ID card, so you are a member of staff at BRD GmbH. These people apply to the Citizens Registration Department, return their passports and issue imaginary passports. And fourth, there are right-wing extremists who want the German Reich to return to 1939. walls.
This is only an ideal description of the environment. They wage trench warfare among themselves and are sometimes bitter enemies. But they agree that they reject democracy, the legal system and often share conspiracy stories.
How strong is this phenomenon?
We estimate that around 23,000 people belong to this environment in Germany. However, you have to be careful with the numbers. The scene grew. The Constitutional Protection Services, which collect these numbers, have not looked carefully for a long time. This has only changed in the last 5-6 years.
Citizens of the Reich do not recognize state institutions. What conflicts does this cause at the municipal level?
In fact, municipalities are particularly affected. When people do not recognize German laws and the legal system, they often first encounter local authorities and the police. The reason may be, for example, an unpaid parking ticket. The scene is a very conscious mission. There are people out there who want to go over the legal situation and make historical statements in long, short texts. Civil servants receive emails or phone calls from people trying to explain why the law does not apply to person XY. Wants to return ID cards, not pay taxes and does not recognize courts.
How should municipalities react to this phenomenon? Is it possible to simply ignore the insanity of the citizens of the Reich?
Administrative workers are forced to deal with this when citizens of the Reich come to the Citizens’ Registration Office. Therefore, it is important that employees in municipalities are well trained. It helps to quickly identify: what am I dealing with? Do I offer these people the space to present their theses in detail? Does it make sense to argue about the content? In most cases, no, because these people have a closed ideological worldview.
How to react then?
It is important to work under control and not get involved in long discussions. There are also very practical tips. If someone supposedly creates a new empire, raises a flag and provides an imaginary address, it would be counterproductive for an administrative worker to send his document back to this imaginary address. Then the citizen of the Reich says: Aha, this is the administration recognizing the Reich that I have declared! During training, you learn to recognize such traps and not give the citizens of the Reich an additional forum.
But there are also serious arguments, because officials are threatened. Administrations handle this differently. I’ve heard of training courses where employees learned to defend themselves at their desks with a staple gun or fist if attacked. We would always advise against engaging in discussions with Reich citizens alone. Depending on the situation, it may also make sense to file a complaint and call the police.
Who can local politicians and administrators turn to if they are threatened or need support?
We experience this phenomenon very often in rural regions and small communities. The best address is always a mobile tip before…