Causalities of Individual Radicalisation of Reichsbürger in Germany

So-called Reichs­bürger (‘citizens of the Reich [German empire]’) are not a new pheno­menon in Germany. However, recent events, such as the investi­gation into ‘Patriotische Union’ (‘Patriotic Union’) since December 2022, the Covid-19 protest move­ments, and several serious acts of violence have been high­lighting their increasing socie­tal relevance. And yet, the currently existing body of knowledge is highly fragmen­ted which hinders an in-depth analysis of this particular ideo­logical spectrum and its followers. Interestingly, preli­minary analyses suggest potentially substan­tial differences between the Reichs­bürger follo­wing and the followers of other, better-studied extremist pheno­mena. This relates to, for example, demo­graphic factors, social dynamics, and forms of organisation. As a result, existing concep­tualisations of radica­lisation cannot easily be transfer­red to Reichs­bürger, which necessi­tates new and dedi­cated research into the topic.

In his disser­tation, Maximilian Ruf investi­gates indivi­dual pathways and causali­ties of radica­lisation of Reichs­bürger in Germany based on biographical-narrative interviews. The over­arching aim of the project is to generate and syste­matise new knowledge on Reich­sbürger radica­lisation and to de­lineate it from other radica­lisation pheno­mena in order to identify new starting points for further research and practical develop­ment.