“People now know who they are dealing with”
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The strong growth of the Reich citizen scene seems to be over in North Rhine-Westphalia. It stagnates at 3200 followers. The interior minister praises the protection of the constitution, but sees no reason to give the all-clear.
I.According to the Office for the Protection of the Constitution, there are currently 3200 so-called Reich citizens in North Rhine-Westphalia. Their number remains at a high level, reported NRW Interior Minister Herbert Reul (CDU) on a dpa request. “That is not the all-clear, on the contrary: Reich citizens are a dangerous mix of right-wing extremists, conspiracy ideologues and unruly state deniers. Parts of the scene don’t shy away from violence, ”said Reul. Reich citizens are also present at the demonstrations of the “lateral thinking” initiative.
The number of Reich citizens remained constant compared to the two previous years, said the NRW constitution protection. The stagnation points to a successful education and sensitization of the population by the security authorities. “People now know who they are dealing with and recognize the ideology spread by the citizens of the Reich,” he continued. The North Rhine-Westphalian Office for the Protection of the Constitution will nonetheless closely monitor how the scene is developing.
Almost 75 percent of the supporters of the Reich citizen scene are men between 40 and 60 years of age. Around 100 citizens of the Reich are also included in the right-wing extremist scene. Reich citizens are more widespread in rural regions than in large cities.
The Reich citizen scene holds potential dangers, since it cannot be ruled out that it will become further radicalized. Parts of the scene see themselves in the resistance and serious acts of violence as justified. Reich citizens deny the existence of the Federal Republic of Germany and accept the continued existence of the German Empire.
In addition to the willingness to use violence, the affinity for weapons that is widespread in the scene is problematic. That is why there has been a regular request to the Office for the Protection of the Constitution since February 2020 if a gun license is to be granted or extended. In addition, the weapons authorities examine the withdrawal of any weapons permits for every supporter of the Reich citizen scene in North Rhine-Westphalia.
Last March, Federal Interior Minister Horst Seehofer (CSU) banned a group of citizens of the Reich, the “United German Peoples and Tribes”, for the first time. 150 police officers were on duty in North Rhine-Westphalia to search five properties in Bünde, Preußisch Oldendorf and Gummersbach.