Every 20th German sympathizes with their positions

A police officer was injured in raids on “Reichsbürger” on Wednesday. A new study shows that supporters of a party in particular sympathize with their positions.

Every 20th German is close to the positions of “Reich citizens”. This is the result of a new study by the Konrad Adenauer Foundation (“No state, my rules”), which is available exclusively to t-online. In the representative telephone survey, five percent of participants agreed with the statement that Germany is still governed by the occupying powers. This is a central position of the “Reichsbürger” movement. A further eight percent “rather” agreed.

Of those who fully agreed, almost two-thirds were male. It was also shown that the lower the formal educational qualification, the higher the approval. And: AfD supporters were much more likely to have “Reichsbürger”-related views than sympathizers from other parties. 16 percent of them took the view that Germany was still governed by occupying powers. Among the sympathizers of other parties, this value ranged between one percent (Greens) and four percent (Union and FDP).

Between December 1, 2021 and April 11, 2022, a total of 5,511 people aged 16 and over were randomly selected and interviewed for the study. The results were supplemented with 90 individual telephone interviews, which were made available voluntarily from the entire group. This enabled deeper insights into the worldview of the respondents. 19 detailed interviews were conducted with people who show a tendency towards extreme political attitudes in the area of ​​conspiracy – people who are usually very difficult to reach for such surveys.

Potential for violence is higher with “Reichsbürger” affines

In the group of those who tend towards “Reichsbürger” positions, the potential for violence is higher than in other groups. 16 percent of them agree with the statement that damage to property or violence against people to achieve political goals is “entirely” justified. In the rest of the population it is only two percent.

Disdain for the elite and distrust in state institutions is also pronounced among respondents with an affinity for “Reichsbürger”. 74 percent said they had little or no trust in the federal government, compared to 40 percent of the general population. The public service media found 72 percent untrustworthy (overall average: 39 percent). 69 percent were convinced that the established media would only bring “what the rulers say”. Only 14 percent of the general population believe that.

Distrust of state institutions is particularly pronounced among people in positions close to “Reichsbürger”. (Source: graphic t-online)

Almost every second interviewee with “Reichsbürger” positions expressed skepticism towards the police, compared to only 22 percent of the remaining interviewees.

“I have my own rules”

Distrust of the state goes hand in hand with non-acceptance of its rules. The statement “I don’t care what the state regulates. I have my own rules” was “completely” agreed by 23 percent of people with an affinity for “Reichsbürger”, compared to an overall average of only about four percent.

The tendency towards conspiracy theses is also particularly pronounced among people with “Reichsbürger”-related worldviews. 64 percent of them were certain or fairly certain that “secret forces” run the world (overall average: 24 percent). Here, too, AfD supporters are particularly common: More than every second person is convinced that secret powers are definitely (15 percent) or probably (36 percent) controlling the world. A majority of all other party supporters believe this statement to be false.

The individual interviews showed that these are often the “classics” of the conspiracy theory milieu, such as the claim that the September 11 attacks were actually “staged” by the USA itself. This goes hand in hand with a strongly negative attitude towards the United States. More than one in three respondents with “Reichsbürger” affinity agreed with the statement that “the world would be a better place without the USA”.

Typical right-wing extremist, racist and anti-Semitic positions, such as the belief that “German” must be “kept clean”, were found more often than average among those questioned who were close to “Reichsbürger” views. This coincides with the findings of the Office for the Protection of the Constitution that there are large overlaps between these milieus. Just over a fifth took the view that society was being “undermined by Muslims” (total: five percent).

However, the author of the study, the political scientist Dominik Hirndorf, also states: “Not all ‘Reichsbürger’ aficionados believe in a conspiracy, and only a fraction strongly agree with statements related to right-wing extremism or anti-Semitism.” Rather, the scene is heterogeneous. However, a comparison with the general population shows that this level of agreement with such positions is far above average. Coupled with this group’s significantly increased acceptance of violence and the well-known affinity for weapons, the attitude patterns are “extremely worrying,” says Hirndorf.


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