According to the indictment, they wanted to overthrow the federal government and planned a spectacular kidnapping of Health Minister Lauterbach live on TV. At the start of the trial, the alleged members of a terrorist group know how to stage themselves in a certain way.
One by one, the accused members of the suspected terrorist group “United Patriots” come into the courtroom at the Higher Regional Court (OLG) in Koblenz. Each accompanied by judicial officials and in handcuffs. An accused woman enters in black socks and on tiptoe.
The five accused are accused of planning a kidnapping of Federal Health Minister Karl Lauterbach (SPD) and the overthrow of the federal government. When the trial begins on Wednesday, it initially takes longer than planned – the five accused only sit around half an hour after the actual start and the trial can begin.
Message in Cyrillic script
The trial of the allegedly planned overthrow of the German government had been eagerly awaited. Even before the trial begins, the accused draw attention to themselves, and one brought a message with them. In addition to a 75-year-old woman, four men are sitting in the dock. According to the federal prosecutor’s office, the group called “United Patriots” is said to have planned the overthrow of the German government and the kidnapping of Lauterbach.
One of the accused is Sven Birkmann. The 55-year-old is the only one of the defendants who would like the media to name his full name. Even before the hearing begins, he holds up a note on a file folder. In Cyrillic script it reads: “With our brother. For peace and friendship. War against fascism.” A blue dove and a red heart are also painted. To whom this message is addressed remains his secret. According to the indictment, the group wanted to ask Russian President Vladimir Putin for approval of the new government they were planning.
Germany was to be plunged into chaos
This is just one piece of the puzzle of the plans, which sound as terrifying as they are absurd: According to the indictment, the group wanted to create chaos in Germany and overthrow the government. First of all, the power supply should be destroyed with explosive attacks – the action was called “Silent Night”. Then, in an action called “Klabautermann”, Lauterbach was to be kidnapped from a talk show. His bodyguards were to be “turned off”.
At a “constituent assembly” in Berlin, plans were finally made to depose the government and appoint new leaders. According to the plan, an actor should also appear on television as the Federal President or Federal Chancellor and announce the dismissal of the federal government.
The federal prosecutor accuses the defendants of a series of meetings, chats and telephone calls in which they are said to have discussed their plans. An undercover agent played an important role in the arrest of the men – he offered one of the accused guns for sale.
Model German Empire
The indictment alleges that they were founders or members of a domestic terrorist organization and prepared a treasonable operation against the federal government. Their overarching goal was the abolition of the free and democratic basic order of the Federal Republic of Germany. Rather, they are said to have planned a new government modeled on the German Empire of 1871.
Several of the accused announced through their lawyers that they would like to comment on the allegations. After the first day of the trial, Birkmann’s lawyers told them about the history of their client from Neuruppin. He was born and raised in a “province of the GDR,” said one of the lawyers. After the fall of the wall, he worked in Russia for a while and later became a financial accountant in Germany. During the corona pandemic, he was no longer allowed to enter his work building as he was not vaccinated.
He had been “politically dissatisfied” for a long time. He rejects the term “Reich citizen” for himself, and he doesn’t see himself as a “lateral thinker,” says his lawyer. “From our client’s point of view, our client did not want to eliminate the free-democratic basic order, but wanted to restore it.”
The prosecution sees the 75-year-old woman as the “political mastermind” of the group. The former teacher in Mainz was stripped of her pension because of her “Reichsbürger” ideology, against which she unsuccessfully defended herself legally.
During the trial, she usually lies with her arm and head on the table, bent over a garbage can. It was brought to her because she said at the beginning of the hearing that she was afraid of throwing up. Previously, she had come into the hall supported by two judicial employees. In a decision of the Federal Court of Justice it was said that the accused was “not relevant to health” impaired.
The accused is said to have written several documents for the planned actions: According to the indictment, the group wanted to solicit support in a letter to Russian President Vladimir Putin, and a letter to Polish President Andrzej Duda is also said to have been intended – with the reference that no Revision of the German eastern border was intended. A letter to Putin has already been sent via a route that can no longer be determined.
The hearing will continue next Wednesday (May 24), after the indictment had been read out and some motions, the first day of the trial was over for the time being.
I have been working in the news industry for over 6 years, first as a reporter and now as an editor. I have covered politics extensively, and my work has appeared in major newspapers and online news outlets around the world. In addition to my writing, I also contribute regularly to 24 Hours World.