BERLIN — Special Forces in Germany have arrested 25 people suspected of supporting a domestic terrorism organization that planned to overthrow the government and form its own state, the federal prosecutor said on Wednesday.
In early-morning raids carried out across the country, Special Forces officers detained people believed to be members and supporters of the group, which prosecutors said had been formed in the past year and was operating on the conviction that “Germany is currently ruled by members of a so-called deep state” that needed to be overthrown. Prosecutors said two other people had been arrested outside Germany, one in Austria and another in Italy.
The prosecutors described the group, which they did not identify, as being influenced by the ideologies of the conspiracy group QAnon and a right-wing German conspiracy group called the Reichsbürger, or Citizens of the Reich, which believes that Germany’s post-World War II republic is not a sovereign country but a corporation set up by the Allies who won the war.
Many of those arrested had military training and included former German soldiers, including from the army of the former East Germany, and were known to have been heavily armed with weapons acquired illegally. The group was most likely formed in late 2021, the prosecutors said.
Among those arrested was a man who tried to make contact with representatives of the Russian government over the plans, according to a statement from the federal prosecutor, but there were no indications that they had received a positive response from the Russian sources they had contacted.
A Russian citizen, who the prosecutors identified as “Vitalia B.,” was “strongly suspected” of supporting the conspirators and of trying to establish contacts with Moscow.
The group, which included people who had taken part in demonstrations against the lockdowns aimed at preventing the spread of the coronavirus, was fueled by conspiracy theories, the authorities said.
Its aim was “to overcome the existing state order in Germany and to establish its own by its own form of state, the outlines of which have already been worked out,” using military means and violence against state representatives, the prosecutors said in the statement.
The group’s plans included an armed attack on the German Parliament building, the Reichstag, the prosecutors said. The members had also formed a sort of shadow government that they intended to install after the coup.
“The members of the organization were aware that this goal can only be achieved through the use of military means and violence against state representatives,” the prosecutor’s statement said. “This also included commissioning killings.”
According to the members of the group, liberation is promised by the imminent intervention of the “Alliance,” a technically superior secret alliance of governments, intelligence services and militaries of various states, including Russia and the United States, according to the prosecutors.