The extremist conspiracy that wanted to seize power in Germany was preparing the 286 brigade

The extremist conspiracy that wanted to seize power in Germany was preparing the 286 brigade

“The seizure of the Bundestag should have been the starting point. In parallel, they planned a network of national defense brigades, which were armed and distributed throughout the country,” prosecutor Michael Klemm said, taking a break from the operation that began yesterday at the Stammhain judicial court. And the prison complex, on the outskirts of Stuttgart, against the “military arm” of the far-right coup plot that sought to seize power in today's Germany. The group of nine defendants are accused of belonging to a terrorist organization as alleged members of the Reichsbürger.

The brief statement to the media came after a lengthy reading of the indictment against the defendants. The expected number of these brigades or “national companies” is 286. Their plans were “remarkably advanced”, and they had weapons, explosives and access to a Bavarian barracks – through a former soldier who was a member of the group. These groups began to be active in different regions of the country, such as in the state of Baden-Württemberg and its capital, Stuttgart. Among the defendants willing to provide military training is a former KSK special forces soldier.

Known as assault

In August 2021, they began making their plans for Day 10 at the Reichstag Dam, the historic building that houses the Federal Parliament. It will not be like the attack carried out a year ago by about 400 citizens of Reichsburg, who were repelled by the police. This time they would be armed and they were convinced that they would have support from the population as well as “companies of patriots”. The attack would be followed by the so-called “Purge Operation” to abolish present-day Germany and restore the Reich.

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The prosecution admitted that “the significant national security problem did not arise from this hypothetical attack.” The “Reich Citizens” movement – which has about 23,000 members, according to the secret services – does not have the operational capabilities or logistics necessary to undermine the German constitutional order. The prosecution considered that “the potential for destabilization is enormous.” The Reichsfolk are no longer a fringe group, fueled by anti-vaccine or anti-asylum movements, amid the frenzy of the parliamentary far right.

Its ranks include members of the Alternative for Germany party, which is the second force in voting intentions at the national level and the only party from this spectrum to hold seats in the Bundestag. The clearest example of this is former judge and MP Birgitte Malsach-Vinkmann, who was arrested in the national raid carried out in December 2022, along with the leader of the group called Heinrich XIII or Prince Reuss. All of them, like those tried in Stammheim, are in pre-trial detention.

The indictment took about two hours to be read, followed by a stream of allegations from lawyers – about 30 lawyers – demanding the suspension of the trial. Their common argument is to divide the operation against 26 suspects involved in the coup plot. The Stammheim hearing on May 21 will be followed by the opening of the case against Heinrich XIII and other “political leaders”, as well as another operation in Munich, already in June, against the rest of the group. Lawyers believed that this division would lead to different conclusions and even rulings.

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The lawyer pointed out that there are sufficient precedents for the trials of more than 25 defendants in France or Belgium to ensure their continuity. German history also witnessed great similar operations, from the Nuremberg Trials against Nazi leaders to the Marxist terrorism of the Red Army Faction (RFA). Judge Andreas Singer, who in this first hearing showed skills in handling the case with some irony, dismissed all the charges at once, perhaps to show that he would not fall for stalling maneuvers.

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