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Rapes against children, torture, arms and drug trafficking: the shocking story of Colonia Dignidad

The first inhabitants of Colonia Dignidad arrived in 1961, hand in hand of former Nazi corporal Paul Schäferwho would have a life marked by horrific crimes, but especially for the impunity of their acts.

Schäfer disappeared on May 20, 1997 and was captured in Argentina in 2005 and belatedly prosecuted, although never because of the true terror that it imposed in that part of Chile that functioned as a sect, very close to the dictatorship of Augusto Pinochet.

Numerous boys were victims of sexual abuse in Colonia Dignidad.
Numerous boys were victims of sexual abuse in Colonia Dignidad.

In various jobs he did in Nazi Germany, Schäfer already had several complaints of child abuse in institutions (which forced minors at risk to do work without receiving any payment), so decided to emigrate to Chile along with many followers.

He organized the departure to South America and it was installed in a subdivision called El Lavaderoin the Maule Region.

The property was declared territory with customs exemptions and tax exemptionand the Dignity Benefactor and Educational Society was installed there, which did not have to pay taxes or customs duties, ideal for the arms and drug trafficking which they also did.

Colonia Dignidad: rapes, terror, disappearances

In Colonia Dignidad they had carried out a elaborate propaganda workwith press releases and videos showing men, women and children happy doing their homework in Colonia Dignidad. Although the complaints began in 1966 with the first leak, they never stopped.

However, they had the support of politicians from the Chilean extreme right even since before coming to power in September 1973, after overthrowing Salvador Allende.

Paul Schäfer with children and adolescents in the documentary series "Colonia Dignidad: A German sect in Chile" (Photo: Netflix).
Paul Schäfer with children and adolescents in the documentary series “Colonia Dignidad: A German sect in Chile” (Photo: Netflix).

The links that Paul Schäfer had with power in Chile continued after the dictatorship.

Chilean journalist Laura Landaeta published in her book Queen of Hearts, unauthorized biography of Cecilia Bolocco that it was Pinochet who lent her the limousine to marry Carlos Menem… and he had received it in turn as a gift from Schäfer himself.

I also read: They assure that Carlos Menem is not the father of Máximo, the son of Cecilia Bolocco

Although Germany requested that the facts be investigated, that was never fully possible. In 2017 they again demanded the collaboration of Chile in clarifying the crimes committed in Colonia Dignidad.

With Augusto Pinochet in power, the place also became in prison and torture center for political detainees.

The community survived far beyond the return of democracy in 1990, but reports of rape within the colony increased, and it became more and more difficult to hide the horror.

A sect of horror in Chile

The inhabitants of Colonia Dignidad lived with close contact with the outsideand accepted an authoritarian system in which parents did not talk to their childrenor they didn’t know they had siblings.

I was forbidden to maintain any type of sentimental relationships or conjugal between young people, women and adult men. Schäfer sexually abused childrenand some were tortured with electroshock or sedatives.

Image of Colonia Dignidad from the documentary "Colonia Dignidad: A German sect in Chile" (Photo: Netflix).
Image of Colonia Dignidad from the documentary “Colonia Dignidad: A German sect in Chile” (Photo: Netflix).

I also read: Nazi Paul Schafer, founder of Colonia Dignidad, died in Chile

Although outside they toasted free health and education for rural families of the area, cases of Illegal adoptions by German leaders.

After Schäfer’s capture, and the whole creepy story coming to light from 2005, about 200 survivors remained at the scene.

From center of horror to tourist destination

Today, Colonia Dignidad is a tourist site called Villa Baviera.  (Photo: Facebook Villa Bavaria).
Today, Colonia Dignidad is a tourist site called Villa Baviera. (Photo: Facebook Villa Bavaria).

Today, the place is called Villa Baviera and has a restaurant and offers tourist services such as German accommodation or gastronomy, while its inhabitants are dedicated to agriculture and livestock. Parties such as weddings are also organized.

Villa Baviera operates in the former horror center Colonia Dignidad.

The story of Colonia Dignidad has been told in several series and movies. Netflix no longer has its documentary available in Argentina, but Prime Video will premiere The survivors. Colony Dignity, September 30th. In 2015, Emma Watson starred in a movie about the place, Cologne.

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