KKK Police Raid Seizes Guns and Knives in a Surprising Location—Germany

Klu Klux Klan
A member of the Ku Klux Klan at a rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, on July 8, 2017. Police in Germany have seized more than 100 weapons in a series of raids targeting members of an extreme right-wing group claiming to be part of the Ku Klux Klan. ANDREW CABALLERO-REYNOLDS/AFP/Getty Images

Police in Germany have seized more than 100 weapons in a series of raids targeting members of an extreme right-wing group claiming to be part of the Ku Klux Klan.

Officers descended on 12 apartments in eight German states on Wednesday, looking for evidence linked to a group calling itself the National Socialist Knights of the Ku Klux Klan Deutschland.

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Two hundred officers were involved in the searches, according to The Associated Press, targeting properties in the states of Baden-Württemberg, Bremen, Hamburg, Lower Saxony, North Rhine-Westphalia, Rhineland Palatinate, Saxony Anhalt and Thuringia.

Among the more than 100 weapons discovered were air guns, swords, machetes and knives, Baden-Württemberg prosecutors said.

Seventeen people—between the ages of 17 and 59—were targeted, though Deutsche Welle noted that no arrests had been confirmed. Around 40 people are under investigation for links to the group, investigators said.

Police came upon the suspects after retrieving messages on a mobile phone seized as part of an investigation into the use of various insignia of illegal organizations. Their research then led them to a number of suspected members of far-right groups.

"The members were united in their right-wing orientation, which included expressing a glorification of National Socialism," investigators told reporters. The raids uncovered several membership lists, the AP added.

Police said they had found no evidence of links between the German KKK members and similar foreign organizations. The group reportedly recruited online and charged monthly membership fees.

Although the KKK hate-group is most infamous for its activities in the U.S., there are numerous offshoots around the world, either directly linked to the U.S. groups or simply inspired by them.

German journalist Frederik Obermaier told Deutsche Welle in 2017 that there were a number of KKK groups active in Germany. While researching the groups for his 2017 book Kapuzenmänner—The Ku Klux Klan in Germany, Obermaier said he spoke to several current and past members of such groups.

Though he could not ascertain how many Germans were in the KKK, Obermaier noted that they had police officers in their ranks and even enjoyed the confidence of sympathetic intelligence service agents.

The journalist also explained that German KKK groups hoped to grow as large as similar organizations in the U.S., and noted that members from both nations had been known to travel across the Atlantic to build working relationships.

The U.S. is still home to the largest number of KKK groups in the world, though their influence has been much diminished since the organization's popularity last peaked in the 1960s. The Southern Poverty Law Center today estimated there were between 5,000 and 8,000 members of the KKK in the U.S. But it noted that these are split among dozens of different organizations, many of whom are in conflict with one another.