25 people have been arrested across Germany following suspicions of a plot to overthrow the government. The group of far-right and ex-military individuals were planning to attack the parliament building, the Reichstag, and take power, according to German reports.
A minor aristocrat named Prince Heinrich XIII is reportedly one of the key figures of the group. Federal prosecutors said that he is one of two alleged ringleaders among those detained across 11 German states.
The conspirators allegedly include members of the extremist Reichsbürger [Citizens of the Reich] group, which German police have long monitored due to violent assaults and racist conspiracy theories. They also refuse to recognise the German state.
Some 50 men and women are said to have formed the group, which schemed to overthrow the republic and substitute it with a state based on Germany in 1871, then an empire named the Second Reich.
A spokesperson from the federal prosecutor's office said that authorities don't yet have a name for the group.
3,000 police officers were involved in over 130 raids across Germany, with two suspects detained in Austria and Italy. Those arrested will be questioned later in the day.
Justice Minister Marco Buschmann tweeted that "a total of 25 arrest warrants against 22 alleged members and 3 supporters of a right-wing terrorist organization from the milieu of #Reich citizens were executed. Another 27 suspects are being investigated."
According to the federal prosecutor, the group plotted a coup since November 2021 and its central council met regularly. They had planned to control Germany with a range of departments such as health, justice and foreign affairs, said the federal prosecutor.
Members believed that they could only achieve their aims through violent action against members of the state, including killings. Investigators are said to have discovered the group when they exposed a kidnapping plot in April which included a band of people named United Patriots.
They were also part of the Reichsbürger environment and reportedly wanted to kidnap Health Minister Karl Kauterbach as well. The latest scheme allegedly involved a previous far-right AfD member of the lower house of parliament, the Bundestag, who would have been the group's justice minister, with Prince Heinrich as chief.
Heinrich XIII descends from an old aristocratic family of the House of Reuss, which controlled parts of what is now the eastern state Thuringia until 1918.
Not only did the group plan to form another government, they also schemed to create a special military unit. Both active and previous members of the military, including ex-elite soldiers, were part of this aspect of the coup plans. The military unit's goal was to remove local democratic assemblies, according to the federal prosecution.