Germans on Wednesday, December 7, woke to news of countrywide raids against people accused of planning to storm the parliament building in Berlin and overthrow the government.
More than 3,000 German police officers were engaged in the raid which thwarted suspected plot by a far-right terrorist group of so-called Reichsbürgers, or Reich citizens, and conspiracy theorists who planned to replace the democratic system with a monarchy.
A total of 25 men and women were arrested in one of the biggest police operations against extremists ever conducted in Germany. Members of the elite GSG9 commando unit took part in the raids on more than 130 homes, offices and storage sites including a barracks of the KSK special forces command, Germany’s equivalent of the SAS.
While 22 German citizens are being detained on suspicion of “membership of a terrorist organization”, three other people, including a Russian citizen, are suspected of supporting the organization.
Prosecutors also disclosed that person was detained in the Austrian town of Kitzbuehel and another in the Italian city of Perugia.
It was alleged that the suspects formed a “terrorist organization with the goal of overturning the existing state order in Germany and replace it with their own form of state, which was already in the course of being founded.”
Among the suspected ringleaders are a far-right judge, an elite soldier and a German aristocrat.
According to the BBC, reports from Germany suggest that the far-right group was planning to attack the Reichstag, the parliament building, and seize power.
Prosecutors identified the suspected ringleaders as Heinrich XIII P. R. and Ruediger v. P., in line with German privacy rules. Der Spiegel reported that the former was a well-known 71-year-old member of a minor German noble family, while the latter was a 69-year-old former paratrooper.
Federal prosecutors said Heinrich XIII P. R., whom the group planned to install as Germany’s new leader, had contacted Russian officials with the aim of negotiating a new order in the country once the German government was overthrown. He was allegedly assisted in this by a Russian woman, Vitalia B.
Germany’s chief federal prosecutor will release a statement on the case later on Wednesday.