The plan sounded frighteningly concrete. The group would round up political enemies and those defending migrants and refugees, put them on trucks and drive them to a secret location.
Then they would kill them.
One member had already bought 30 body bags. More body bags were on an order list, investigators say, along with quicklime, used to decompose organic material.
On the surface, those discussing the plan seemed reputable. One was a lawyer and local politician, but with a special hatred of immigrants. Two were active army reservists. Two others were police officers, including Marko Gross, a police sniper and former parachutist who acted as their unofficial leader.
The group grew out of a nationwide chat network for soldiers and others with far-right sympathies set up by a member of Germany’s elite special forces, the KSK. Over time, under Mr. Gross’s supervision, they formed a parallel group of their own. Members included a doctor, an engineer, a decorator, a gym owner, even a local fisherman.
They called themselves Nordkreuz, or Northern Cross.
“Between us, we were a whole village,” recalled Mr. Gross, one of several Nordkreuz members who described to me in various interviews this year how the group came together and began making plans.
They denied they had plotted to kill anyone. But investigators and prosecutors, as well an account one member gave to the police — transcripts of which were seen by The New York Times — indicate their planning took a more sinister turn.
Germany has belatedly begun dealing with far-right networks that officials now say are far more extensive than they ever understood. The reach of far-right extremists into its armed forces is particularly alarming in a country that has worked to cleanse itself of its Nazi past and the horrors of the Holocaust. In July the government disbanded an entire company infiltrated by extremists in the nation’s special forces.
But the Nordkreuz case, which only recently came to trial after being uncovered more than three years ago, shows that the problem of far-right infiltration is neither new nor confined to the KSK, or even the military.