German police conducted raids and arrested members of a far-right group that had sought to violently overthrow Chancellor Olaf Scholz’s government and kidnap the health minister, prosecutors said on Tuesday.
Searches took place in six states as part of measures against the Reichsbürger group, according to prosecutors.
Reichsbürger (Citizens of the Reich) adherents do not recognise modern-day Germany as a legitimate state. Some of them are devoted to the German Empire under monarchy, while some are adherents of Nazi ideas and others believe Germany is under military occupation.
The group, called Vereinte Patrioten, had planned to install a government modelled on the constitution of the German Reich of 1871 and kidnap German Health Minister Karl Lauterbach.
The group, formed in mid-January 2022, had set itself the goal “of triggering civil war-like conditions in Germany by means of violence” in the hope of overthrowing the government and parliamentary democracy, according to prosecutors.
The group also had planned targeted explosive attacks with the aim of bringing about a nationwide power blackout lasting several weeks in order to cut off the population from broadcast and press coverage, according to prosecutors.
Five suspected members arrested last year have been on trial since May on high treason charges brought by prosecutors.
Among those arrested on Tuesday was a 61-year-old man in the central German state of Hesse, who offered his garage as a storage space for weapons and agreed to take part in the kidnapping, prosecutors said.
Lauterbach thanked investigators on Twitter after the raids were announced, saying he probably owed his life to them.
A 49-year-old was also arrested in the district of Mettmann, while two other German nationals, a 52-year-old and a 32-year-old, were arrested in the state of Rhineland Palatinate. In southern Germany, a 41-year-old had also been arrested.
None of the suspects were named.
As part of the raid in Hesse, police confiscated a crossbow, a BB gun and various documents among other items, they added.