It can be found in an article by Anthony Failoa and Stephanie Kirchner on page A8 in the 25 March issue of the Washington Post titled, “In Germany, online hate stokes right-wing violence”.
The Reichsburgers are an expanding movement in Germany with similarities to what are known as sovereign citizens groups in the United States. Reichsburgers reject the legitimacy of the federal government, seeing politicians and bureaucrats as usurpers. After authorities seized illegal weapons from his home, they charged Bangert, a Reichsburger, and five accomplices with plotting attacks on police officers, Jewish centers and refugee shelters.
Jan Rathje, a project leader at the Amadeu Antonio Foundation says, “It’s an international phenomenon of people claiming there are conspiracies going on, people with an anti-Semitic worldview who are also against Muslims, immigrants, and the federal government. He continued, we’ve reached a point where it’s not just talk. This kind of thinking is turning violent.”
Preliminary figures for last year show that at least 12,503 crimes were committed by far-right extremists—914 of which were violent. The worst act was the fatal shooting of a German police officer by a Reichsburger member. The preliminary figures roughly compete with levels in 2015, but they amount to a leap of nearly 20% from 2014.
Of course, Germans are especially sensitive about this as one time they were governed by Nazis. Officials say they last time numbers surged this high was in the early 1990s, when Germany recorded a large but short-term jump in neo-Nazi activity following reunification. Authorities believe the the surge is due, in part, by the arrival of early, mostly Muslim, asylum seekers. Last year, there were nearly 10 anti-migrant attacks per day, ranging from vandalism to arson, to severe beatings. Officials say the rise of conspiracy theorist websites, inflammatory fake news, and anti-federal government/right-wing activism have thrown more factors into the mix.
The Reichsburger movement consist of nearly 10,000 individuals who reject the authority of federal, state and city governments. Some claim that the last real German government was the Third Reich of Adolf Hitler. Although the Reichsburger movement may be uniquely German, its type of fringe thinking is universal. German intelligence officials describe some of the tools used by the members, such as fake passports and documents used to declare their own governments, are nearly identical to those used by American sovereign citizens groups.
In October, a 49-year old Reichsburger declared his home an “independent state,” shot and killed a police officer assigned to seize his hoarded weapons. Last August, a former “Mr. Germany” and 13 of his supporters tried to prevent his eviction from his “sovereign home” by shooting at police. Police fired back, severely injuring Ursache. Two officers were also hurt. This raid, along with the raid of 11 other apartments found evidence against Bangert and five other people suspected of having formed a far-right extremist network They are believed by prosecutors to have been planning armed attacks agains police officers, asylum seekers, and Jews.
As the title of the Washington Post article suggests, online hate is stoking much of this right-wing violence. It would be interesting to compare the number of right wing hate groups in Germany with right wing hate groups in the US. This article provides some limited information on Germany.
To find evidence about dangerous hate groups in the US go to https://www.splcenter.org
At one time the FBI monitored these dangerous groups. HM hopes they are continuing these activities. However, The Southern Poverty Law Center does more than just monitor these groups. They have programs that have reformed members of these hate groups, and they continue to develop more programs for this essential service.
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