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Podcast: Then they (try to) take Berlin
Who are Germany's Reichsbürger, and what's it like to study them?
Whenever German police round up 25 extremists in an alleged plot to overthrow the Bundesrepublik, I call Hans-Jakob Schindler, a German diplomat and academic who tracks violent extremist movements in Europe.
It’s a strange time when a string of arrests rounds up dozens of alleged participants in an elaborate coup plot in a major European democracy, and a week later we’re on to other topics. I wanted to understand more about what’s been going on in Germany.
Fortunately a few weeks earlier during the Halifax International Security Forum, I met Schindler at a dinner. As Senior Director of the Counter Extremism Project, an international think tank dedicated to studying and tracking potentially violent extremist movements, he’s an eloquent and rigorous explainer of the coup-inclined mind.
In our interview, Schindler reminds listeners that the so-called Reichsbürger movement took another, more haphazard run at German’s parliament, in 2020. He discusses the movement’s emergence as a serious security threat, its recruitment methods, its training sites — even its summer music festival circuit. The whole conversation is both informative and surreal.
Here’s my conversation with Hans-Jakob Schindler on Apple Podcasts:
Our Founding Sponsor is Telus. Our Title Sponsor is Compass Rose. Our Ottawa partner is the National Arts Centre. In Toronto, I’m the inaugural Journalist Fellow-in-Residence at the University of Toronto’s Munk School of Global Affairs and Public Policy. Antica Productions handles production for the podcast. The Toronto Star and iPolitics distribute and promote The Paul Wells Show. Kevin Breit recorded and performed the music.
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