Far Right Infiltration The Extremists Hiding in Germany’s Police and Military
Some serving police and military personnel in Germany are plotting for ‘Day X’ – a far-right conspiracy that seeks to overthrow democracy and launch a race war
“If I hadn’t woken up, we would have all been burnt to death. I still ask myself why, when the police admitted they knew neo-Nazi’s were planning an arson attack on me, why did they fail to warn me?”
For three years, Ferat Koçak, a Die Linke politician now in the Berlin State Parliament, had been under surveillance by neo-Nazis – who, in turn, were under surveillance by the police.
In 2018, Koçak – whose parents are Kurdish and who lives in the multicultural Neukölln area of Berlin – that surveillance spilled out into real life violence. The home he shared with his parents was targeted by arsonists. His car was set on fire in the driveway, with the flames spreading to their house.
That same evening, a neighbouring bookshop run by Heinz Ostermann, who had hosted anti-right-wing reading groups, was also firebombed.
Three days later, his mother suffered a heart attack.
“The police knew about the planned attack but either could not or would not prevent it,” Koçak said. To this day, he still regularly receives death threats from far-right actors.
To all intents and purposes, Germany has laboured hard to make amends for its Nazi past. In the wake of the Second World War, it re-emerged on the world stage as a functioning and modern liberal democracy; an anchor within the European project.
But what if two key pillars of this nation – the police and the army – were not entirely what they seemed? And what if a percentage of the service personnel within these organisations were working in an interlinked form as a ‘state within a state’, hiding in the shadows of the establishment and preparing themselves for a ‘Day X’?
‘Germany Still has a Nazi Problem’
It’s an overcast and windswept day in Neukölln, and Ferat Koçak is taking part in a memorial service at Zichenplatz for the nine people murdered in Hanau, Hesse, by the far-right gunman Tobias Rathjen in 2020. Koçak is here as an official parliamentary observer.
Neukölln itself is a typical Berlin mix of multiple cultures, with shisha bars next door to coffee shops, buzzing outdoor markets and Bierkellers standing side by side.
But, despite this eclectic scene and its Kurdish population, this area in south-west Berlin has a dark side: an active neo-Nazi scene dating back many years.
“Germany has an ongoing issue in admitting that it still has a Nazi problem within its society and state institutions,” Koçak said. Indeed, no one in Neukölln has ever been convicted by the courts of an act of far-right extremism and terrorist activity.
Troublingly, this neo-Nazi scene has crossovers with state officials. A Berlin police superintendent was accused of supplying classified police computer files to members of the far-right via a chat group. When this was discovered, the officer was simply relocated to another force.
This was not the only time the police have been found to be colluding with the far-right. Germany’s Council for Migration – a non-profit organisation established in 1997 – noted in its 2020 report that, between January 2017 and March 2020, there were 1,441 suspected cases of right-wing extremism across all security and intelligence services.
‘Day X’ and Infiltration
Two hundred kilometres away from Berlin, in the north-eastern state of Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania, former army officer and police officer Marko G, was preparing for ‘Day X’.
Neo-Nazi movements believe that this is the day when the social fabric of Germany will collapse and the far-right will be called upon to to restore law and order; to rescue the German nation from itself.
In his long career, Marko G had served as an army parachutist for eight years, and as a police officer for two decades – including in the state criminal police office and in the police special forces. He was also a member of the neo-Nazi Nordkreuz group, along with a local politician, a lawyer, a judge, army reservists and fellow police officers.
In preparation for Day X, the group had accumulated body bags, explosives, quick lime and more than 50,000 rounds of ammunition and assorted firearms. Some of the rounds were traced back to the stores of specialised army units and police forces.
Operational since January 2016, Nordkreuz is a splinter group from the far-right ‘Hannibal’ network set up by André S, who has a conviction for violating Germany’s weapons and explosives act. Like Marko G, he has a history in the armed forces and was a former non-commissioned officer in Germany’s KSK elite military force. He used his position to supply the network with state information on the current security situation in Germany.
FUND MORE INVESTIGATIVE REPORTING
Help expose the big scandals of our era.
The far-right infiltration of the KSK was so pronounced that, in 2020, a full fighting company of KSK soldiers was disbanded after it was revealed that they had been sharing Nazi symbols and mocking refugees in chatgroups.
The far-right’s focus on getting inside the KSK is no surprise to anti-racist campaigners, such as Timo Reinfrank, of the Amadeu Antonio Foundation. “If you’re looking for a special unit who could take over the German Chancellery or the most important ministries in Berlin, then this was the most important unit to do so,” he told Byline Times.
As part of its preparations for Day X, Nordkreuz had drawn up a ‘death list’ of its political enemies – this time with the help of another police detective who used his access to a law enforcement computer network to help create the list of undesirables journalists, activists and politicians.
The plan was for these individuals to be rounded up and transported by army trucks to a pre-planned location and be ‘dealt with’.
‘The Greatest Danger to Democracy’
Marko G faced criminal allegations of illegal weapons possession. However, the court took no action to pursue or convict him over his activities within Nordkreuz. He was given a 21-month suspended sentence after the regional court in Schwerin deemed his action “a one-time lapse”.
State prosecutors have appealed the decision and the case is now set to return to a higher court once again. A further prosecution against two other members of Nordkreuz was quietly dropped by the Federal Prosecutor General in December 2021 due to “lack of sufficient suspicion”.
This is in spite of the fact that Nordkreuz was part of an identified and verifiable nationwide network across Germany, set up with its mirroring geographical divisions of military district administrations. It had aligned groups in Switzerland and Austria, and is still intact and active to this day.
For Martina Renner, a member of the German Parliament, “this is not how you fight terrorist structures – this is how you protect them”.
In 2021, Felix Klein, the Federal Government’s Commissioner for Jewish Life in Germany, said that “nobody can deny the deadly dimension of antisemitism and right-wing extremism in Germany anymore” and that “right-wing extremism is a big threat to democracy in Germany”.
Heike Kleffner – who works at the VRBG, which provides counselling for victims of right-wing, racist and antisemitic violence – agrees with this assessment. She co-edited the 2019 book Extreme Security, that explored police and military collusion with the far-right.
“We have police officers who supply right-wing terror networks with information from police databases on political enemies,” she told Byline Times. “And we have police officers who spread antisemitic and National Socialist propaganda.”
The Military Counterintelligence Service has noted how the number of military and security personnel linked to far-right extremism has been increasing year on year, from 2018 to 2020. However, the recorded numbers of staff within the security services holding right-wing extremist views is still proportionally very low.
But, despite these low numbers, Interior Minister Nancy Faeser is clear that a problem exists. In her inaugural speech to the German Parliament in January, she said: “We will do everything in our power to stop radicalisation, dismantle right-wing extremist networks and consistently take away the weapons of extremists… The greatest danger to democracy is right wing extremism.”
“If trained elite soldiers now become radicalised, that is of course a completely different level of threat,” said Dirk Laabs – author of Enemies of the State in Uniform: How Militant Right-Wingers Infiltrate Our Institutions – during a talk with Nicholas Potter of the Amadeu Antonio Foundation.
“I think the term ‘shadow army’ is an exaggeration. There is no army that could be activated for a civil war against the Bundeswehr. But there is a very dangerous small group of radicalised and partly right-wing extremist soldiers and police officers and it has to be said: it will be very difficult to keep this group under control.”