Police in the former East German city of Dresden say they have confiscated a cache of weapons including crossbows, sharp spikes, and guns in early-morning raids of properties tied to a right-wing anti-vaccine group that threatened to kill a local government official over anti-COVID measures.
On Dec. 8, the investigative German television program ZDF Frontal ran an investigative report exposing a plot hatched on the messaging service Telegram to murder Saxony Prime Minister Michael Kretschmer with hunting weapons over his recent lockdown measures meant to mitigate the rapid spread of COVID-19 and its variants in Germany.
The group, which called itself Dresden Offlinevernetzung, or Dresden Offline Networking, had around 130 members, all with far-right anti-vax sympathies, the report said. Germany is the epicenter of the current pandemic wave in Europe, and the national government recently called on regions to adopt measures to severely restrict unvaccinated people from work and leisure activities. Health authorities predict that as many as 6,000 people could be in intensive care by Christmas even if prevention measures work.
So dire is the situation that German Health Minister Jens Spahn warned that by the end of the winter, “pretty much everyone in Germany will be vaccinated, recovered, or dead… That’s the reality.”
Still, the anti-vax propaganda has kept Germany at one of the lowest vaccination levels in Europe as warnings to those who are trying to enforce measures grow more hostile. Among the threats uncovered on Telegram against Kretschmer were plans to use “armed force if necessary” with links to discreet sites where crossbows, axes, and unregistered guns could be purchased.
On Wednesday, Germany’s intelligence agency, known as the LKA, confirmed that it had infiltrated the Telegram forum to pinpoint where to carry out raids. Authorities said they found hunting weapons among the weapons cache they believe would be used against Kretschmer and others in half a dozen locations. “The LKA is in action today in connection with the reporting on Frontal, where there is ongoing investigation into a potentially serious crime,” LKA spokesman Tom Bernhardt told reporters at one of the raid locations.
He sent on to say that the death threats against Kretschmer were directly related to the COVID restrictions he enforced. Saxony, which has Germany’s lowest vaccination rate, is the epicenter of the current wave being driven by the Delta variant.
Elsewhere in Germany, police confirmed Wednesday that many government officials and media outlets had received raw meat wrapped in aluminum foil with threatening messages tied to COVID restrictions.
One of the letters accompanying the meat said, “The meat is infected with radiating Covid-19 viruses and Zyklon B,” according to a Berlin police spokeswoman. (Zyklon B is the poisonous substance Hitler’s Nazis used to murder millions of Jews in gas chambers at concentration camps during World War II.)
“The resistance to the vaccination and the measures will be bloody and unsavory.”