The trial against the far-right Revolution Chemnitz group began in Dresden's Higher Regional Court on Monday.
The eight suspects — aged between 21 and 32 — are accused of "forming a right-wing terrorist organization" in the eastern city of Chemnitz in September 2018.
Complex terror case
The trial, expected to run until at least April 2020, is one of the most complex cases to come before the Dresden court, involving more than 60 files and testimony from around 75 witnesses.
The accused are alleged leaders in the skinhead, hooligan and neo-Nazi scenes in and around Chemnitz.
Violent anti-migrant riots erupted in the eastern German city last year following the fatal stabbing of a German man by a Syrian asylum-seeker in August.
Prosecutors say five of the defendants "armed with glass bottles, weighted knuckle gloves, and an electroshock appliance" launched an attack on several foreign residents of Chemnitz in September 2018.
They allege this incident was a "test run" for the planned rampage in Berlin on October 3. Police arrested the suspects in raids on October 1.
Rising danger of violence
The eastern state of Saxony, where Chemnitz is located, has seen a fierce backlash against Chancellor Angela Merkel's decision to allow almost a million refugees to enter Germany in 2015.
Support for the far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD) party and the anti-Islam PEGIDA movement is particularly strong there. In regional elections earlier this month, the AfD won 27.5% of the vote, only slightly behind Merkel's conservative Christian Democrats on 32%.
Interior Minister Horst Seehofer has warned that the danger posed by the militant right is growing and is "as big a threat as radical Islamism."
Seehofer announced over the weekend that police last year uncovered 1,091 weapons during investigations linked to the far right — a significant increase from the 676 found in 2017.
nm/rc (AFP, dpa)