Together Logo
"Reich Citizens". The underestimated danger


For years, "Reichsbürger" were primarily regarded as a phenomenon of "paper terrorism": they engaged in written verbal battles with the authorities, in which a wide variety of pseudo-legal reasons were given as to why the executive actions of bailiffs, police officers and registrars were allegedly illegal and factually null and void. They formulated theses about the non-existence of the Federal Republic and developed bizarre counter-state designs. For a long time, they were dismissed by the public, but also by parts of the security authorities, as a quirk of eccentrics who annoyed the authorities but posed no serious danger.

However, this has always been a fallacy. The affinity of the ideologically very heterogeneous scene of the "Reichsbürger" to weapons is well known. The rhetorical escalation, as the past years or so have shown, has increasingly been followed by a de facto escalation: stalking and threats to employees of the administration, armed attacks on law enforcement officials, or self-empowerment for executive measures.

In view of the multiple social crises and their perception among the population, elements of the "Reichsbürger" ideology have gained increasing resonance in recent years. This was evident both in part of the "Corona protests" and in the context of the mobilization for the so-called "hot autumn" from the context of the extreme right. The "Reichsbürger" scene has diversified in recent years. In essence, three currents can be distinguished, which nevertheless exhibit ideological and organizational sociological overlaps: Sovereignists, right-wing extremist and anti-Semitic Reich ideologues, and esotericists. What they have in common is the delegitimization of the state and its executive. In addition, elements of the "Reichsbürger" ideology form an amalgam with other conspiracy ideology elements and gain resonance.

For the past two years or so, the scene has increasingly been discussing scenarios of state collapse, as a result of which its own options for enforcing political interests are not only discussed but also prepared in a targeted operational manner. Ideologues consider a prolonged power blackout, a food supply that is no longer guaranteed, or the (partial) collapse of public security to be the prelude to such an intervention. These scenarios are interpreted as a beacon for their own actions, in which either vigilantist actors or self-appointed political representatives are to take the place of the state.

No one should be deceived by the supposed deviousness of the "Reichsbürger" ideology: The substantive derivations may seem desperate, but they appear to their followers as a plausible way of interpreting actual and supposed social crises. "Reichsbürger" are a very real and still underestimated danger.