Reichsbürgerbewegung

It’s really weird when I run across a subculture in another country that mirrors some of the stranger American subcultures. Here in the United States, for example, we have a “sovereign citizen” movement where individuals do not believe they are subject to the government of the United States, most typically due to a bizarre reading of the Fourteenth Amendment of the Constitution or one of several Acts of Congress.

Germany, however, has its Reichsbürgerbewegung–individuals who do not recognize the authority of the German government due to similar reasoning,

The self-described Reichsbürger (“Reich citizens”) maintain that the Federal Republic of Germany is illegitimate and that the Reich’s 1919 Weimar Constitution remains in effect. Most of their arguments are based on a selective reading of a 1973 decision of the Federal Constitutional Court concerning the Basic Treaty between West and East Germany. The judgement held that the 1949 Basic Law for the Federal Republic of Germany (Grundgesetz) itself assumes that the Reich, as a subject of international law, despite the German Instrument of Surrender and the Allied occupation, had survived the collapse of Nazi Germany, but is incapable of acting as a state because it lacks any organization, such as governmental authorities.

The Reichsbürger do not, however, cite the Court’s further holding that the Federal Republic is not a successor state to the Reich, but, as a West German state at that time partially, and today—since 1990—fully identical to it. Instead they claim to have restored the governmental bodies of the German Reich and to be capable of acting on the basis of the Weimar Constitution.

The original Kommissarische Reichsregierung was founded in 1985 by Wolfgang Gerhard Guenter Ebel, a former Reichsbahn traffic superintendent in West Berlin. Ebel, who appointed himself Reich Chancellor, claimed to be acting on the authority of the Allied occupation authorities. Some of the members of his “cabinet” later fell out with Ebel and established provisional governments of their own with names such as Exilregierung Deutsches Reich or Deutsches Reich AG (the latter being based in Nevada, USA).

KRRs engage in activities such as issuing currency and stamps, as well as promoting themselves through the Internet and other media. Where the number of their adherents allows, they also emulate the “re-established” institutions, such as courts or parliaments, of the Weimar Republic or of earlier German states. Temporarily a restored Reichstag existed as well as several Reich Ministers, state governments, and a Reichsgericht.

As with the sovereign citizen movement in the United States, the Reichsbürgerbewegung is apparently composed largely of individuals who subscribe to far right wing political views.

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