February 8, 2023

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Who is Prince Heinrich XIII of Reuss?  The far-right coup plot in Germany made that clear

Who is Prince Heinrich XIII of Reuss? The far-right coup plot in Germany made that clear

Germany has been a republic for more than 100 years and is now the strongest democracy in Europe. It has no real princes or kings, but as with many other former kingdoms across Europe, some aristocrats with hereditary royal titles choose to continue using it.

Heinrich XIII, 71, belonged to the Reuss family, an ancient royal dynasty that ruled parts of what is now Thuringia in central Germany for hundreds of years until 1918. It is now one of 16 federal states in Germany.

Reuss is just one of many branches of German royalty, many with family ties across Europe, including the British royal family.

In a 12th-century oddity, the male heirs to the throne of Reuss are called Heinrich, followed by a number. This is in honor of Heinrich VI, who ruled as King of Germany and Holy Roman Emperor until his death in 1197.

Holy Roman Emperor, Heinrich (Henry) VI (1165-1197), taken from the Manse Codex, which was illustrated between 1305 and 1340. Getty Images file

Heinrich was arrested at his home in an upscale district of Frankfurt on Wednesday.

According to a report in a local newspaper, Ostthüringer Zeitung, police also searched his hunting lodge, a small neo-Gothic castle near the town of Bad Lobenstein in Thuringia, originally built in the 19th century for his predecessor Heinrich LXXII.

NBC News has not verified the reports.

Heinrich may claim the hereditary title, but the House of Reuss is not happy with it.

Heinrich XIV, a distant relative who serves as head of the house and spokesperson, told German broadcaster MRD on Wednesday that he was shocked by the news and had not spoken to Henry XIII in a decade.

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“Of course it affects the family disastrously,” he said, “I think we have been a cosmopolitan tolerant race for 850 years in eastern Thuringia, and now we are all over the world, all the way to America, [we’re] “Terrorists” and “Reactionaries” – it’s really terrible.

Heinrich XIII, who was arrested on Wednesday wearing a green jacket, brown trousers, a blue shirt and a colorful silk scarf, was described by German media as a businessman. His personal website vaguely says he offers to “coordinate business interests.”

He is accused of contacting representatives of the Russian Federation in both Russia and Germany in hopes of lobbying to overthrow the Berlin government, although prosecutors said there was no evidence that Moscow officials responded positively to the request.

The House of Reuss disowned Henry XIII even before his arrest on Wednesday. In August the House distanced itself from its views, with Heinrich XIV describing him as a “confused old man” and “now caught up in the misconceptions of the conspiracy theory”.

It is those opinions that are now under intense scrutiny.

In short, Henry XIII is of the opinion that Germany as we know it does not exist.

If a coup attempt does eventually occur – and German authorities say they expect more arrests in the coming days – it would not be the first attempt to force a return to Germany’s imperial past.

He attempted a Kapp Putsch, or putsch, in 1920, but failed to overthrow the government in Berlin, whose supporters saw it as illegitimate. More than 100 years later, that sentiment is still very much alive among some right-wing supporters in Germany.

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itinerant delivery Speech Entitled “Why the Blue-blooded Elite Became Servants,” at the World Wide Web Forum in Zurich, Switzerland, in 2019, Heinrich presented a rosy picture of monarchical Germany at the end of World War I.

“If something wasn’t going well,” he said, “I just went to the prince.” “Who are you supposed to turn to today? Your Member of Parliament, local, federal or EU? Good luck!”

He argued that his family had been unjustly deposed, before invoking an anti-Semitic conspiracy theory about the role of Jewish bankers in the removal of European monarchies.

Summing up the Reichsbürger Doctrine, he said: “Since Germany’s surrender on May 8, 1945, it has never been sovereign again. It has been reduced to an Allied administrative structure…a vassal state.”

With some historical consistency, Heinrich’s arrest came nearly 100 years after the Beer Hall Putsch, a failed coup by Hitler’s Nazi party in Munich on November 8-9, 1923.

Hitler failed and was imprisoned for five years, during which time he wrote his manifesto and memoir, Mein Kampf. But it helped capture wider public attention and laid the foundation for what was to come.