Lower Saxony's Minister of the Interior Boris Pistorius (SPD) sees overlaps in content between the AfD and "Reich citizens". "Reich citizen does not automatically mean AfD and vice versa. But there are large overlaps - from the rejection of our state to the pro-Russian attitude to hostility towards America," he told the "Bild am Sonntag".
The AfD always manages to generate fuel for its own politics from such movements. "That's why we have to take it seriously and look very closely at the AfD, which is a catalyst."
Pistorius said: "I think the AfD is largely right-wing extremist." Even in state associations like in Lower Saxony, which a few years ago were still considered relatively moderate, there is a "clear movement" towards right-wing extremism. The time for a ban on the AfD has not yet come. "But we have to look, check and collect so that we don't miss the point," said Pistorius.
Debate on extremism in the civil service
The investigations by the federal prosecutor's office into suspected conspirators from the "Reichsbürger" scene have further fueled the debate about extremists in the civil service. A general suspicion against members of the security authorities and the armed forces is inappropriate, said the president of the reservists' association, Patrick Sensburg, of the "Rheinische Post" (Saturday).
What is needed, however, is a "much more consistent crackdown" on people like one of those arrested, an ex-officer. He is known for his attitudes, there are criminal proceedings against him, "and yet he continues to walk around the country in uniform and spread his crude theories and this with full pension payments". Such people would have to be removed from the service much more quickly, along with the removal of the privileges afforded to civil servants.
"Secondly, we need more awareness-raising measures in the robust units of the Bundeswehr, police and other security agencies," said Sensburg. The members of the Bundeswehr's special forces command and of the police's special task forces have a tough job, are heavily armed and rightly see themselves as the elite. "But that can lead to them taking off, thinking they're something better than the usual rules," warned the head of the reservists' association. That shouldn't happen.
Former officers were also among those arrested
Federal prosecutors arrested 25 people on Wednesday, including former officers. She accuses 22 of those arrested of being a member of a terrorist organization that wanted to overthrow the political system in Germany. Three other arrested are considered supporters. The 23 suspects arrested in Germany have been in custody since Thursday. The federal prosecutor also spoke of 27 other suspects. "Reich citizens" are people who do not recognize the Federal Republic and its democratic structures.
The accused also include a state security officer at the State Criminal Police Office (LKA) in Lower Saxony, who was released from duty due to criminal investigations. The Lower Saxony Ministry of the Interior announced on Friday evening that the official had "not carried out official business for the LKA Lower Saxony for a long time". According to dpa information, a police officer who has already been dismissed is among those arrested. The man, who was also known as a corona denier, had appealed against a corresponding judgment by the Hanover administrative court.
More options for action needed
Federal Minister of the Interior Nancy Faeser (SPD) intends to submit a draft law to the other federal government departments before the end of this year, which is intended to speed up the dismissal of extremists from civil servants. According to reports, this involves, among other things, giving the respective employer more direct options for action.
"At all levels of the state, there is a need for a high level of sensitivity with regard to the constitutional loyalty of civil servants," said the Union's domestic politician Christoph de Vries (CDU) on Saturday. But his parliamentary group will also make sure "that the principles of the rule of law are not violated and that civil servants are not prematurely and carelessly removed from the civil service."
The coup plans uncovered in the course of the latest investigations show that the so-called Reich citizens are a real threat, said the CDU member of the Bundestag. It is therefore unacceptable that information about the forthcoming raids was "spread" early and widely. It is to be feared that the accused would also have found out about the planned searches and thus possibly also had the opportunity to get rid of weapons or other evidence.