German authorities on Wednesday arrested 25 far-right extremists suspected of supporting a domestic terrorism group plotting to overthrow the country's government — and the details of the story are just as unbelievable as you might think.
A German noble and an ex-paratrooper were reportedly in charge
One of the scheme's supposed leaders — Prince Heinrich XIII — is actually a minor German noble from the House of Reuss, "which ruled over parts of the modern eastern state of Thuringia until 1918," BBC News reports. But Heinrich, who the relatively newly-formed group apparently planned to install as the leader of Germany, is notably estranged from the rest of his family, with a spokesman describing him over the summer as an "at times confused man" susceptible to "misconceptions fueled by conspiracy theories." The plot's second alleged ringleader — Ruediger v. P, as he was identified — is a former paratrooper "suspected of trying to recruit police officers in northern Germany and of having an eye on army barracks too."
The plot was rooted in QAnon and German conspiracy theories
Perhaps unsurprisingly, the group's members are said to subscribe to QAnon ideology — which, in short, alleges the world is run by a ring of Satan-loving (and often Democratic) pedophiles that Donald Trump worked to overthrow while president — as well as that of a German conspiracy organization known as the Reichsbürger, which rejects the legitimacy of modern Germany and believes the country is ruled by a "deep state." In executing a coup, the group hoped to "overcome the existing state order in Germany and to establish its own form of state, the outlines of which have already been worked out," prosecutors wrote in a statement. "The members of the organization were aware that this goal can only be achieved through the use of military means and violence against state representatives."
Someone reached out to Russia?
Per prosecutors, Heinrich — the minor German noble — had tried to contact Russian officials in hopes of negotiating "a new order in the country once the German government was overthrown," summarizes The Associated Press. He was reportedly assisted in these efforts by a Russian woman named Vitalia B. That said, there has been no indication that Russian sources responded positively to Heinrich's overtures.