Germany has no problem with Reich citizens. It’s much worse: we have a problem with right-wing conspiracy theories. We have problems with people who see themselves and the German people as victims of dark machinations. We have a problem with fear, hatred and delusion.

Sure, it’s dangerous, the so-called Reich Citizens’ Movement. We have known that since the police murder in October 2016, when the “free man Wolfgang” wanted to defend his “autonomous government district” from the advancing security forces in Georgensgmünd in Central Franconia and opened fire. Public interest in the Reichsbürger phenomenon awoke overnight, and the press and the state security service jumped at the previously underestimated danger. A danger that is not easy to determine.

Tobias Ginsburg is a theater maker and author. He studied dramaturgy, literature and philosophy at the Bavarian Theater Academy and the LMU Munich. He has been writing and directing plays since 2007. In 2018, his debut book “Die Reise ins Reich” was published, for which he spent eight months undercover in the Reich citizen and neo-Nazi scene chasing the German conspiracy mania.

Because the depiction of the Reich citizens as failed existences, which lose themselves in stupid worldviews out of desperation, only scratches the surface.

The scene includes extremists of all stripes, people from the most diverse social classes and milieus: Reich ideology unites hardened neo-Nazis and new right-wing agitators with light-flooded esotericists and paranoid political sects, ranging from peace-loving hippie associations to the well-to-do bourgeoisie right up to the Bundestag.

What connects all these people is the belief in a single, but damn effective conspiracy theory: The German people are victims of a world conspiracy and the Federal Republic is part of this conspiracy and therefore not a legitimate, sovereign or real state.

The details of this insane theory are interchangeable and as diverse as the scene itself. Some of its followers want to break away from the hated state as self-governing bodies, others want to fight it. Some cling to the 1937 or even 1914 borders. Some cite the apparent lack of a constitution or peace treaty. Still others want to see a secret dictatorship in the parliamentary democracy, others in Germany a company or a puppet state – controlled by sinister world rulers.

On which, in turn, one can agree: on the idea of ​​a small power elite that controls world events and subjugates the German people. One believes oneself in a common struggle for survival: us against those up there.

If you think of the old anti-Semitic myth of the Jewish world conspiracy here, you are unfortunately quite right. The feverish dream of malicious world rulers is based on anti-Semitic clichés. It’s basically the same ugly filth as before, only the underlying hatred of Jews can no longer be trumpeted around in public quite so lightly. So it is encrypted.

Depending on the milieu in which one moves, there is now talk of the “cosmopolitan financial elite” or the “international lodge scene”, of Illuminati or Satanists, of the Rothschilds or simply of the Zionists.

That is not surprising. The ideas of Reich citizenship are deeply rooted in the brown swamp.

That doesn’t mean that all Reich ideologues are also right-wing extremists, but that they all adhere to right-wing extremist ideas – regardless of whether they see through it themselves or not.

They see themselves as the true Germans, as the real people, as those who have woken up. They look at the rest of society with corresponding contempt. They see the rest of us as manipulated “sleeping sheep” or purchased “system trolls”, servants and servants of regimes and conspirators. Reich ideology is self-empowerment and sacrificial behavior at the same time.

And as crazy as it all may sound: Political madness is booming right now. Right-wing populists and AfD politicians are now also unashamedly telling bourgeois horror stories about an externally controlled Federal Republic and about secret sovereigns, about nasty villains who want to Islamize the German people, “encircle them” or wipe them out entirely. Right-wing madness is socially acceptable again. Conspiracy mania is normalized.

Nationwide, in 2021, around 21,000 (2020: 20,000) people can be attributed to the scene of “Reichsbürger” and “Selbstverwalter” throughout Germany. Around 1,150 (2020: 1,000), i.e. more than five percent of them, are right-wing extremists. It goes without saying that only a few imperial ideologues want to be publicly recognized as such. And we are only beginning to understand what they have already done with their pathological ideas.

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