German police have carried out raids across the country against a far-right group that was allegedly prepping for an armed uprising against the state, amassing guns, knives and ammunition.
According to the authorities, the right-wing extremist group, known as the Berserker Clan, had been discussing preparations for a so-called “Day X” – a concept prevalent in German far-right circles which refers to an unspecified date when extremists will violently rise up against the establishment.
Prosecutors have accused 15 people of belonging to the group, which they allege is a criminal organisation. About 130 police officers were involved in Wednesday’s searches at 14 properties linked to the group in the states of Berlin, Schleswig-Holstein, Baden-Württemberg and Hesse.
A spokesperson for the Berlin Attorney General’s office told VICE World News that they could not provide any information on the number of weapons seized. Nobody had been arrested in the raids, which were part of a preliminary investigation into the group.
The Berserker Clan’s Facebook page shows photos of members wearing T-shirts featuring the group’s logo: an axe-wielding warrior wearing a skull helmet. The page also features references to a “revenge full of horror and terror,” as well as the slogan: “Through bloodshed, the gods reveal their will to us.”
Police said the leader of the group was based in Berlin, where members were photographed at a major anti-lockdown rally in August last year, which culminated in a mob of hundreds of protesters storming the steps of the German parliament building.
Grischa Stanjek, a co-founder of Germany’s Centre for Democratic Contradiction, a non-profit research centre, told VICE World News that the group had stood out at the rally on the 29th of August last year, the only time he had seen them gathered in public.
“On that day, their appearance caught our attention – muscly men, wearing the same shirts, with far-right tattoos and one with his face covered with a black scarf,” he said, adding that he did not know whether any of the group had participated in rushing the Reichstag steps.
“Their appearance caught my eye because they wanted to be seen. To hear now that they communicated and prepared for a so-called ‘Day X’ is really worrying.”
Stanjek said his organisation’s research into the group suggested one had links to the Hell’s Angels, and that they appeared to be inspired by biker gangs.
“They refer to themselves as a ‘brotherhood’ and say their group includes whole families,” he said.
Nicholas Potter, an expert on right-wing extremism at the Amadeu Antonio Foundation in Berlin said that “Day X” was an obsession for many groups on the German far-right, from neo-Nazi cells within the military, to preppers, to the German sovereign citizen conspiracy theorists known as “Reichsburgers.”
“It’s a violent fantasy revolving around the idea of a judgement day where supposed ‘traitors’ will be held to account,” he told VICE World News.
“On an unnamed date in the future, the political system will supposedly crumble and, from its ruins, a far-right rule will emerge. Political opponents and marginalised groups will be “brought to justice” or killed.”
He said that some groups took a “prepper” approach – stockpiling weapons and supplies and even drawing up lists of enemies in anticipation of the coming violence – while others, driven by “accelerationist” ideology, sought to actively speed up the collapse of society through plotting violent attacks.
The concept had also found its way into the QAnon conspiracy ideology that has taken root in Germany, referring to a day of reckoning where the world will be saved from “globalist elites” or the “corona dictatorship”.
“In the conspiracy world, Day X often goes hand in hand with the idea of the Nuremberg Trials 2.0, where politicians, journalists and scientists will be tried,” he said.
According to Germany’s domestic intelligence agency, the extremist threat rose last year, with 40 percent of the country’s 33,300 far-right extremists categorised as "violence-oriented" – the highest proportion ever. The number of far-right violent crimes committed rose by 10 percent, to 1,023.