By Yannick Gregory
It was the coup attempt that rocked the world. In the morning of December 7, 2022, 3,000 members of the German police armed and clad in tactical gear descended on 50 homes in Germany, Austria and Italy, and arrested 25 people accused of plotting to overthrow the government. This was the largest police operation ever in Germany. A moment that will forever be captured in history books—from multiple high-resolution angles—thanks to the German media, whom, according to a far-left politician, the government courteously informed of the secret operation two weeks prior (to give you a sense of the priorities) (source: antifascist politician Martina Renner, n-tv.de “Die Razzia wirkt wie eine PR-Aktion”).
Just like that, an imperial government-in-waiting was exposed to the world. Many already know about the eccentric leader Prince Heinrich XIII (age 71), but he was just the tip of the bratwurst. An organizational chart published in BILD reveals the names and functions of key lieutenants and advisors, including Frank Heppner (age 62), a restaurant owner chosen by the plotters to oversee the Reichskantinen (imperial cafeterias) after the coup succeeded. Another potential minister, an astrologist, would have been put in charge of “Transcommunication.” A doctor was set to be “Minister of Spirituality and Healing.”
Now people might wonder what type of arsenal these people were equipped with. What weapons did the 3,000 police members discover at the homes and hideouts of these extremists? Two rifles, one handgun, swords, crossbows, and some antique guns. Which makes the following comment from leftist politician Janine Wissler all the more ridiculous: “What makes such networks especially dangerous is their connections to the army, police and legal system. Among them are people who are trained in using weapons and have access to weapons as well as sensitive information. Therefore it is vital to identify and dismantle right-wing networks within the army and police.” It turns those vast connections were only able to deliver 3 modern guns to the group.
25 people arrested with a mean age past retirement armed with maybe one tenth of the arsenal of your average Turkish gang in Berlin. This is what Interior Minister Faeser called the “abyss of a terrorist threat.” This is what inspired the German government to organize the largest police operation in German history. It all seems a little ridiculous (although to be fair, we have yet to see the Reichsburger group chats, which authorities promise are full hate speech most foul). As Federicus Versago pointed out in Krautzone, it is worth noting that the failed 2016 coup in Turkey involved the participation of over 8,000 soldiers.
Any American with an interest in politics—left of right—can probably think of some chat groups, militias, and so on, that would pose a greater threat. The same is true in Germany. Leftist groups have attacked police with incendiary devices and teargas recently. On the right, the Freie Sachsen movement counts tens of thousands of members, the whole of which probably has more than two rifles in their possession. And this is even before we get into ethnic clans and mafias which have been operating largely unhindered. The focus on this group in particular feels inexplicably random. Unless you assume that the whole thing has nothing to do with terrorism, and everything to do with creating political advantage.
A big joke with serious implications
From Austria to Germany, the reaction of the German-speaking activist right to this clown world raid has been a mix of laughter and worry. They call it the “Ravioli Putsch” (police pointed to the members’ stash of 12 cans of ravioli in a ridiculous attempt to prove that they were making sinister long-term plans), the ‘Prince Putsch” or the boomer coup. They share memes of the alleged escape vehicle of Prince Heinrich (a walker, according to some sources). But they also see something more sinister at work.
This huge, PR-driven raid is the most dramatic of several recent escalations in anti-democratic behavior coming from the German state, with the enthusiastic complicity of the media. Michael Ballweg, a leading anti-corona demonstrator, has been held in custody since June on unproven charges of fraud and money laundering. Although he should have been released pending trial, a judge just extended his stay because the prosecution argued that Ballweg was planning to commit a crime “in his mind,” and refused to hear any witnesses from the defense. A libertarian anti-lockdown journalist, Oliver Janich, was also imprisoned in the Philippines upon a request from the German government. Both Ballweg and Janich are seen as political prisoners by the German right.
More seriously, Interior Minister Nancy Faeser has been leading a charge for months to pass a “Beweislastumkehr,” shifting the burden of proof from the accuser to the accused in cases where public officials are suspected of political extremism. She has taken up this project again, pointing to the Reichsburger raid as proof it was urgently needed to drive people out of office. It’s clear that AfD politicians will be driven out of office were she to succeed. Politicians on the center-right, like Bavarian Minister-President Markus Soeder, have also suggested that the AfD must be placed under stricter scrutiny as a result of this Reichsburger scham.
It is no coincidence that the better patriotic parties have done electorally in Europe and, according to the polls, should do in both the upcoming regional elections in Germany and the national elections in Austria, the harder the German state has been cracking down. Lacking a proper terrorist movement to attack, they go after harmless yet colorful group and draw legitimacy from measures itself. The more repressive they get, the more dire things seem, which paves the way for even greater repressive measures next time. It’s a toxic dyamic that unfortunately seems set to escalate the more the state as a whole fails to protect its people from actual threats (migrant crime and economic and social decline). Martin Sellner, an Austrian activist, describes the situation very well on his most recent audio analysis on Gettr.
Reactions from the US
While some on the American online right may be tempted to compare this story to false flag operations at home, such as the “kidnapping” of the Michigan governor, a more just comparison would be to COVID policy and repression in the US, where certain authorities became more repressive the less the evidence justified it. This is the dynamic that is playing out as forces on the right gain steam and are winning arguments in Europe. The establishment will not cede anything without a fight, and the nature of that fight will be more exercises in clown world demonstrations of power.
It’s also interesting to see how this story has gone viral in US NatSec circles (despite the lack of an actual threat to the German state), and which elements in particular US media has seized on: Namely, the alleged QAnon / Russia connection. Their pieces are long on “ideology” and “international networking” of the far right, and very short on the actual facts behind this alleged plot—how many people were involved, how many weapons they had, etc. They obsess over mythology far more than capacity. Probably because the capacity is straightforwardly ridiculous and the mythology can be interpreted in every which way (“Prince Heinrich is the philosophical heir to Bannonism!” “QAnon is taking over Germany!” etc). The truth is, any group of anti-lockdown boomers with a telegram channel will have discussed things that reporters can trace back to the Q stuff, fairly or unfairly. Hyperventilating about this is a bit like freaking out when it emerges that some Democratic staffer forwarded a meme from a tankie account. Yes, there is a great deal of cross-pollination in our digital age. Yes, this means that people from different countries share the same content. Yes, there is sympathy in some dissident circles toward Russia. The mere fact that what is true about US groups is also true about German groups should not be a big story, but for some reason US media types are addicted to their ideas about ideas.
The way forward:
There only two things the right can do in this environment: Continue to ridicule these raw exercises in clown world power as much as possible. Laughter is the most honest and powerful response to these betrayals of freedom and democratic values. The other approach is strategy: Part of the right will be angrier about what is happening than bemused. And anger is warranted, but it can lead to unstrategic actions. Comments full of bile, death wishes against abusive authorities, or fantasizing about some kind of revenge are all human reactions to injustice. But they are not strategic, and people or activists who indulge in them are doing the political equivalent of public masturbation. We see that, lacking any real “evil” to go after, they will seize on the harmless but loud and wild. It is important to laugh at their flailing, their incompetence, their inconsistency and their idiocy, while continuing to make progress where progress is being made. In Austria, the patriotic FPO party is leading in the polls. The AfD is up in eastern Germany and also leading in the polls. The ID Fraktion in the EU is working more closely together than before and has attracted some very solid people. Winning elections in Germany and preparing the 2024 EU campaign are what need to be done. Rage is what the establishment wants. Give them laughter and cool-headed strategic action instead.
Yannick writes for Freilich Magazin