Over the past two years the number of so-called "Reich citizens" in Germany, who do not acknowledge the legitimacy of the country's government and Constitution, has risen from roughly 10,000 to 19,000, German media outlet Die Welt reported citing a German domestic intelligence report for the Bundestag. The biggest increase in Reich citizens' numbers took place in 2017, when their number swelled to 16,500.
The recent trend has sparked the interest of the German domestic intelligence services, who are currently trying to determine, what's caused the phenomenon. A spokeswoman for the Green Party Irene Mihalic has lamented that most of these "Reich citizens" have not been singled out as "right-wing extremists" and suggested that they should not have the right to carry weapons, the German media outlet reported.
As of March 31, 2018 some 1,200 so-called "Reich citizens" had weapons permits. This number decreased in October to 940 after the authorities revoked over 200 permits. Yet, Mihalic believes they are still "too well armed" for people with "plans to overthrow the government."
"Reich citizens" are an unorganized group of people, who consider the creation of the Federal Republic of Germany (which was later renamed Germany) unlawful, and thus do not acknowledge its government and Constitution. Many of them have passports and even license plates stylized after the ones that existed in the German Empire, which preceded Nazi Germany (also known as the Third Reich).