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"Reich Citizens" and "Self-Administrators" - An Increasing Danger?

Source: Jan Woitas / picture alliance / dpa

Press release March 19, 2020With "United German Peoples and Tribes", the Federal Minister of the Interior forbids Reich Citizens' Association for the first time

Searches have been going on in ten federal states since the early hours of the morning.

to the press release: Federal Minister of the Interior bans Reich Citizens' Association for the first time with "United German Peoples and Tribes" ...

There are regular reports in the daily newspapers about citizens who reject the existence of the Federal Republic of Germany and its legal system. They boycott decisions made by administrations and hinder police officers at work. They draw borders around their houses and thus declare their property to be their own, separate national territory. They have their own passports, their own currencies and their own "state orders". We are talking about so-called "Reich citizens" and "self-administrators".

They also deny our democratically elected representatives, such as the Federal Chancellor or the local mayor, the legitimation as representatives of the people. Some of these groups and individuals even assume that our legal system does not apply to them. Your motives can be very different.

"Reich Citizens" - a heterogeneous phenomenon

Identity card (enlargement opens in a new window)Source: BPolPersonal ID of a Reich citizen

The scene is extremely heterogeneous both organizationally and ideologically. The security authorities do not yet assume that a uniform movement exists. Often the different scenes even compete with each other. Four different groups of the "Reichsbürger" scene alone represent a "Free State of Prussia" according to their self-image. Others try, for example, to "reorganize" "Prussian" communities in order to place them under "self-administration".

Frequently askedWhat is the difference between "Reichsbürgern" and "Selbstverwaltern"?




Some of the followers of the scene refer to the historical German Reich and follow conspiracy-theoretical argumentation models. In doing so, they are very active in achieving their goals. Nonetheless, the movement is fragmented, complex and confusing. Many therefore reject the designation of "Reich Citizens" or "Self-Administrators" for themselves. Contrary to popular belief, only a small part of the scene can be assigned to right-wing extremism.

  • Germany-wide surveys by the BKA and the BfV (as of December 31, 2019)

  • 19,000 people belong to the scene of the "Reich Citizens" and "Self-Administrators"

  • 950 of them belong to the right-wing extremist scene

  • around 530 of them legally own weapons*

  • At least 790 people were withdrawn from weapons law

  • * The reason for the continued high number of known license holders is, in particular, the ongoing clarification of the scene, through which new license holders are continuously known.

Ideological components and typical behavior

Overall, "Reichsbürger" and "Selbstverwalter" refer to a wide variety of geographical, international law and political situations in German history. To support their respective point of view, they cite laws, treaties, jurisprudence and speeches. In doing so, they twist the facts, simply make false claims and rely on pseudo-legal / historical arguments. Quotations are inadmissibly shortened or even fictitious. Sometimes they rely on obvious falsifications for their "arguments".

The "yellow note"

It is often propagated by members of the scene that one should apply for the "yellow note". The background to this is that "Reichsbürger" and "Selbstverwalter" accept neither an identity card nor a passport as proof of German citizenship.

For many "Reichsbürgern" and "self-administrators" an official citizenship certificate ("yellow certificate") is valid as proof of German citizenship. The citizenship card is an official document that confirms possession of German citizenship.

The legal basis is the Nationality Act (StAG). The application for determination of German citizenship is made by people who for historical or personal reasons are doubtful whether they are German citizens. As a rule, these are people living abroad.

The large number of applications for the "Yellow Note", however, has no comprehensible legal background, but rather goes back to the activities of the "Reich Citizens" and "Self-Administrators" scene.

In addition, "Reich citizens" and "self-administrators" mostly refuse to pay taxes and fees or to obey legal orders. They are often very aggressive towards the police, bailiffs and other public officials. Sometimes they even use violence. This attitude results from the various ideological set pieces. In particular, the "self-administrators" like to assert an existing self-defense situation when official measures are carried out against them on the territories they claim.

The "Malta Mesh"

"Reich citizens" and "self-administrators" not only hinder the courts, police and authorities in their work. They also threaten individual employees. One of the methods was, for example, the so-called "Malta scam" (also known as the "Malta trick" or "Malta debt collection"). They tried to collect unjustified monetary claims from officials via a Maltese debt collection company. The aim was to intimidate the employees.

However, the scene did not succeed in enforcing the invented monetary claims. The Federal Ministry of the Interior, together with the Federal Foreign Office, engaged in intensive dialogue with Malta and other countries to ensure that this method did not work. The procedure nonetheless often led to uncertainty among the public officials harassed in this way.

As a result, the fundamental rejection of the state and the legal system forms the common ideological basis of the most diverse splinter groups and individuals without any organizational involvement.

As a result, however, the fundamental rejection of the state and the legal system forms the common ideological basis of the most diverse splinter groups and individuals without organizational involvement.

A threat to our legal system

Part of a blue passport document for the citizens of the Reich (enlargement opens in a new window)Source: BPol

Since "Reich citizens" reject the existence of our state and its legal system, the risk that members of this scene violate the legal system of the Federal Republic of Germany is very high. How fatal the consequences of this ideology can be became apparent on October 19, 2016 in Georgensgmünd / Bavaria. There a 50-year-old member of the scene killed a police officer and injured three other members of a special task force who tried to secure firearms from him.

The Federal Ministry of the Interior takes the threat posed by these people very seriously, because the potential for violence is very high. The security authorities have been monitoring "Reichsbürger" and "Selbstverwalter" more intensively since November 2016 than before. Since then, there have been increasing levels of executive action due to legal or illegal possession of weapons, commercial or gang falsification of documents or fraud. Most of the crimes committed are resistance crimes against state power (better: enforcement measures).

Gun possession as a special danger

The security authorities are particularly concerned about the not inconsiderable number of legal gun owners in the scene. They are therefore trying to deprive "citizens of the Reich" and "self-administrators" the possession of weapons wherever it is legally possible. Since these people reject the legal system, they are usually unreliable in terms of weapons law.

The enforcement of weapons law is the responsibility of the licensing authorities of the federal states. The federal and state security authorities work closely with the licensing authorities to transmit information for the purpose of withdrawing weapons permits.

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