Dozens of people belonging to a reactionary and neo-Nazi movement were arrested last week in Germany accused of preparing a coup which included the armed assault on the Bundestag and the kidnapping and murder of prominent political figures, including Olaf Scholz, the head of government. The list of people to be executed included 18 high-ranking politicians.
They were members of a nebula of neo-Nazi cliques known as ‘Reichsbürger’ (citizens of the Reich). Among them, now in prison, there is a judge and former deputy, retired military commanders and policemen, entrepreneurs and above all a figure stands out, that of Prince Henry XIII of Reuss.
Henry XIII is the latest in a long family saga that sand dates back more than 700 years and that until the end of World War I he was in control of a region of East Germany. In the past he had already shown signs of anti-Semitism and disrespect for democratic institutions, but he has never been seen as more than a charlatan, he has never been seen as a truly dangerous person.
Not the potential heir to the Reuss principality but 17th in the line of succession. His distant cousin Enrique XIV (in the family they have the custom of putting Enrique and an ordinal on all males) said after the arrests that his cousin is just “a confused old man” and with whom the family has not had relations for more of a decade.
researchers they now believe he would have been the leader of the failed coup attempt and that he was the person who was to be appointed head of an authoritarian regime which was to succeed the current democracy. In the cellars of his stately home in the small town of Bad Lobenstein, investigators found weapons and explosives.
The town is located in Thuringia, the German lander which was one of the cradles of Nazism and where the far-right AfD party has one of its strongholds as the first political force (it does not govern the region because the others agree to avoid it).
Henry XIII is the epitome of the Prussian authoritarian tradition, mixed with Nazi ideology and peppered with various conspiracy theories. Among other things, he believes that the democratic Germany that emerged after the Second World War and the Allied occupation is actually a company in the service of the victorious powers of the Second World War.
His political passion has been concentrated for years restore the German Empire before the First World War, one of the main roots of Europe being the epicenter of the two world wars in less than 30 years. A regime geographically and politically wiped off the face of the earth at the end of the second world conflagration.
Up to that moment his life had been that of a moderately well-to-do middle-class man who lived on a pension and who had worked in the past as a real estate agent and wine merchant.
For decades, since German reunification in 1990 after the fall of the Berlin Wall, he tried to recover the assets that had belonged to his family and which had been requisitioned by the communist regime that ruled East Germany after World War II. He never understood it.
The first signs of radicalization appear in 2019. In a video that could be seen on YouTube until days ago but has since been deleted, he was seen giving a lecture in Switzerland in which he said that Germany was being pushed into the First World War by the interests of international finance (typical anti-Semitic discourse) and that the German state as such is an illusion, that in reality the country is a company in the service of foreign powers.
In that speech he said, “After ruling for millennia, my dynasty was stripped of all its power after the First World War.” He also noted (another anti-Semitic custom) “to the Rothschild family” and “Masonic finances”.
Henry XIII is a wake-up call for the German security services. In recent years, leaders at the level of his interior minister have singled out the violent far-right as the biggest threat to the country’s security.
This failed coup attempt, which probably would have gone nowhere given the scale and number of people involved, shows that in Germany there is still an anti-democratic far rightseditious and willing to go to violence.
Mark Jones is a world traveler and journalist for News Rebeat. With a curious mind and a love of adventure, Mark brings a unique perspective to the latest global events and provides in-depth and thought-provoking coverage of the world at large.