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Coup Plot in Germany: Difficult Decisions for the Legislature to Make

Updated: Dec 28, 2022


Source: https://truthrow.com/prince-heinrich-xiii-and-the-failed-german-coup/

By: Soh Yi Fei Titus


On 7 December 2022, German Security Services launched one of their most manpower-heavy raids, involving over 3,000 officers, resulting in the arrest of 25 people [1]. The group were allegedly planning an operation to overthrow the current German government, and eventually reinstate a monarchist government, with Prince Heinrich XIII of Reuss as head of state. The group, known as Patriotische Union (also referred to as the Patriotic Union) is part of a far-right extremist movement known as Reichsbuerger (also referred to as Citizens of the Reich). They had made plans to launch an armed assault on the Bundestag Parliament as they vehemently refused to recognise the current Bundestag Parliament as legitimate and have strong beliefs rooted in the German monarchy or Nazi ideology [2]. The group was arrested while they were still in the midst of recruiting former soldiers and stockpiling weaponry.


To the horror of the German public, members of the group planning the coup included active military and police personnel [3], including former army colonels and active elite special forces officers in possession of weaponry [4], as well as former Berlin judge and Alternative for Germany (AfD) Party MP, Birgit Malsack-Winkemann [5]. Even though more than 1000 Reichsbueger members already had their weapons removed in 2021, the raid still saw a total of 19 handguns and 25 rifles confiscated from members of the coup, with an estimated 500 members still in possession of their gun permits [6].


The attempted coup has caused the German Legislature to consider legal reforms and tighter gun laws to prevent future uprisings. Interior Minister Nancy Faeser has proposed the tightening of gun laws as well as a change in regulation with regard to disciplinary procedures of civil service members [7].


With regard to the tightening of gun laws, the Interior Minister has suggested an increase in scrutiny and frequency of checks on people who own weapons. Likewise, MP Marcel Emmerich has proposed a principle of rule denial, where weapon permits are automatically denied for people known to the Office for the Protection of the Constitution as extremists [8]. However, such proposals should definitely anticipate resistance. Germany’s gun laws are currently governed by the German Federal Weapons Act (Bundeswaffengesetz), which complies with the current European Firearms Directive, and has already been amended twice in 2008 and 2009 to tighten gun control after the 2009 Winnenden School Shooting [9]. As weapon enthusiasts have long asserted that Germany already possesses some of the strictest gun laws worldwide [10], it can be expected that similar groups will echo the same sentiments should such bills be proposed.


Similarly, Justice Minister Marco Buschmann from the Free Democratic Party has expressed his opposition to tighter gun laws as he asserts that they would not be helpful if people were to illegally obtain their weapons and firearms anyway [11]. The Justice Minister’s concern is a persuasive one as the German Ministry of Interior estimated in 2009, there were 45 million firearms in circulation (both legally and illegally) even though according to the National Gun Registry, there were only 5.5 million firearms legally owned by people in the country [12]. As such, supporters of gun rights might feel that the tightening of gun laws is akin to throwing the baby out with the bathwater as it would deprive them of a viable form of defence against those who illegally obtain firearms. Should the opposition to the legal reform be substantial, the proposals for legal reform with regard to gun laws may not materialise and efforts to prevent future uprisings would be unfruitful.


A less controversial amendment introduced in light of the coup is the tightening of disciplinary procedures for civil service members. The German Cabinet has agreed to introduce new laws to remove extremism from the civil service more quickly and to make funding streams more reliable for civil society organisations that facilitate this process [13]. By tightening disciplinary procedures for civil service members, it would be faster and easier to fire civil service members and withdraw their pensions in cases of serious misconduct [14]. Even though this is less controversial than the tightening of gun laws, the increased ease in discharging civil service members may be concerning to civil service members themselves. Such powers should not be purely arbitrary and should still have some form of structure to give civil servants a better sense of certainty as to the definition of “serious misconduct”. The civil service would then have to toe the line, given the serious repercussions. Should such regulations be introduced, it would seem appropriate for contingency measures such as compensations to be coupled with the tightening of regulations in the unfortunate event of wrongful dismissal. Such forms of certainty and allowances may be necessary as the harshness of amended regulations may cause members of the civil service to circle the wagon, resulting in further unrest for the Bundestag Parliament to deal with.


With the coup failing less than a month ago, German executives and legislatures would have to be swift and steadfast in their legal reforms as the extremism in Germany grows ever more evident. However, Germany must decide how it intends to thread the needle and strike a balance between the legal reforms and concerns of different stakeholders such as gun enthusiasts and members of the civil service. Disregarding the latter may cause the former to simply tread water, wasting their efforts and prolonging the window of opportunity for similar uprisings to take place.






References

[1] Katya Adler, “Germany coup plot: The extremists who tried to topple the state”, (BBC News, 10 December 2022) https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-63916809 (Accessed: 18 December 2022)

[2] Paul Carrel, Rachel More “German security forces loyal to constitution – interior ministry”, (Today, 9 December 2022) https://www.todayonline.com/world/german-security-forces-loyal-constitution-interior-ministry-2067796 (Accessed: 18 December 2022)

[3] Katya Adler, “Germany coup plot: The extremists who tried to topple the state”, (BBC News, 10 December 2022) https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-63916809 (Accessed: 18 December 2022)

[4] Kateya Adler, “Germany coup plot: The extremists who tried to topple the state”, (BBC News, 10 December 2022) https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-63916809 (Accessed: 18 December 2022)

[5] Madeline Chambers, Sarah Marsh “Former lawmaker’s arrest over suspected coup plot highlights Germany’s extremism problem” (Today, 10 December 2022) https://www.todayonline.com/world/former-lawmakers-arrest-over-suspected-coup-plot-highlights-germanys-extremism-problem-2068376 (Accessed 19 December 2022)

[6] The Local “Will Germany tighten gun laws following alleged plot to overthrow government?” (The Local, 13 December 2022) https://www.thelocal.de/20221213/will-germany-tighten-gun-laws-following-alleged-plot-to-overthrow-government/ (Accessed 19 December 2022)

[7] Sarah Marsh, “Germany to tighten gun laws after suspected coup plot, interior minister says” (Reuters, 11 December 2022) https://www.reuters.com/world/europe/germany-tighten-gun-laws-after-suspected-coup-plot-minister-2022-12-11/ (Accessed 19 December 2022)

[8] The Local “Will Germany tighten gun laws following alleged plot to overthrow government?” (The Local, 13 December 2022) https://www.thelocal.de/20221213/will-germany-tighten-gun-laws-following-alleged-plot-to-overthrow-government/ (Accessed 19 December 2022)

[9] Gun Policy, “Germany – Gun Facts, Figures and the Law” (Gun Policy, 2022) https://www.gunpolicy.org/firearms/region/germany (Accessed 19 December 2022)

[10] Dagmar Breitenbach, “Weapons Law” (DW, 21 July 2010) https://www.dw.com/en/german-group-denounces-weapons-law-as-unconstitutional/a-5822589 (Accessed 19 December 2022)

[11] Malay Mail “German pledges tighter laws after far-right coup plot” (Malay Mail, 14 December 2022) https://www.malaymail.com/news/world/2022/12/14/germany-pledges-tighter-laws-after-far-right-coup-plot/45287 (Accessed 19 December 2022)

[12] Armin Kaefer “45 Million Guns are in Circulation” (Badische Zeitung, 11 March 2009) https://www.badische-zeitung.de/deutschland-1/45-millionen-waffen-sind-im-umlauf--12577725.html (Accessed 19 December 2022)

[13] Malay Mail “German pledges tighter laws after far-right coup plot” (Malay Mail, 14 December 2022) https://www.malaymail.com/news/world/2022/12/14/germany-pledges-tighter-laws-after-far-right-coup-plot/45287 (Accessed 19 December 2022)

[14] Sarah Marsh “Germany to tighten gun laws after suspected coup plot, interior minister says” (Reuters, 11 December 2022) https://www.reuters.com/world/europe/germany-tighten-gun-laws-after-suspected-coup-plot-minister-2022-12-11/ (Accessed 19 December 2022)



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