Reported by Katrin Bennhold

Audio produced by Lynsea Garrison, Clare Toeniskoetter and Kaitlin Roberts

Sound edited by Larissa Anderson and Mike Benoist

A German soldier, a faked Syrian identity and a loaded gun in an airport bathroom crack the door open to a community of far-right extremists inside the German military and law enforcement. It’s a story about a shifting national identity — and the backlash against it — raising a question which democracies throughout the world are waking up to: What happens when the threat is coming from within ?

This episode includes strong language.

The story of Franco A., the army officer who faked his identity, was widely publicized in the German press. Then reports emerged he wasn’t alone — that soldiers and police officers across the country were organizing via encrypted messages. They were preparing for the day that they believed democracy would collapse, a day that they called Day X. In this episode, we ask: Just how dangerous are they?

There is a variant of Germany known around the world: a liberal democracy, an economic powerhouse in Europe and a nation that atone for the Holocaust with memorials and history courses in every public school. It’s the Germany that elected Chancellor Angela Merkel and has admitted over a million refugees in recent years.

But in the shadows of this national picture, far-right extremism lurks. And over the past few years, Germany has suffered a series of deadly far-right terror attacks, including the assassination of a politician, Walter Lübcke, who was captured on his terrace at close range by a well-known neo-Nazi in 2019. But how new is this far-right extremism, really ?

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Day X consists of Lynsea Garrison, Clare Toeniskoetter, Kaitlin Roberts, Larissa Anderson, Mike Benoist and Katrin Bennhold. Additional reporting by Christopher Schuetze. Engineered by Dan Powell. Original music by Hauschka and Dan Powell. Research and fact-checking by Caitlin Love. Special thanks to Anita Badejo, Liz Baylen, Lisa Tobin, Lisa Chow, Claudine Ebeid, Rachelle Bonja, Stella Tan, Soraya Shockley, Lauren Jackson, Nora Keller, Desiree Ibekwe, Julia Simon, Tanjev Schultz, Jörg Echternkamp, Miro Dittrich, Michael Slackman, Jim Yardley, Kirk Kraeutler, Sam Dolnick, Matt Purdy and Cliff Levy.