The German „Reichsbürger“ movement that made international headlines this week for allegedly plotting to overthrow the country’s government has been watched closely by authorities since 2016. Back then, a man who identified as a “Reichsbürger” opened fire on a group of policemen who were ordered to confiscate his weapons after his license had been revoked, killing one officer and injuring three.
Because of the group’s open rejection of the Federal Republic of Germany and its legal system, its followers don’t feel bound by its rules and are thus seen as a threat to the rule of law and democracy. According to Germany’s Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution, individuals associated with the “Reichsbürger” ideology committed more than 1,000 extremist crimes last year, 184 of which involved violence.
As the following chart shows, that’s a sharp uptick in both total and violent crimes compared to previous years, indicating that followers of the “Reichsbürger” ideology have become increasingly vocal and dangerous. According to the Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution, coercion and threats were among the crimes most often committed by individuals associated with the group, while violent crimes most often involved resistance against authorities.