t was a warm evening in late summer last year when trouble began to brew in front of the Reichstag, the historic home of the German Parliament. A few hundred protesters had gathered there as part of wider demonstrations in Berlin against the government’s measures to restrict the spread of COVID-19. Throughout the day on 29 August, tens of thousands of people took over locations in the city centre, including the Victory Column and the Brandenburg Gate. They were a diverse lot – but the group that went to the Reichstag mostly comprised followers of esoteric conspiracy theories and fringe right-wing groups. There, at around 7pm, a woman with waist-length blonde dreadlocks called Tamara Kirschbaum took to the stage.
Kirschbaum, a naturopath (a health practitioner who applies natural therapies) from Aachen, in the far west of Germany, was until recently a significant figure within the country’s QAnon scene. Outside of the anglosphere, Germany is the biggest hotbed of QAnon, a cultish worldview centred on the conspiracy theory that a global elite of politicians, celebrities and governments is secretly trafficking children. Its followers also believe that a “deep state” has conspired against the former US president Donald Trump. Kirschbaum described herself on Facebook as a “freelance employee” at Qlobal Change, a German Qanon group.
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