Guardian online - Fiona Ortiz - Hunting Hitler TV - The Colony: Chile’s Dark Past Uncovered 2013 -
A former Nazi who founded a secretive German colony in South America where opponents of Augusto Pinochet’s dictatorship were tortured has been arrested after more than a decade on the run.
Detectives in Argentina captured Paul Schäfer, an 84-year-old German, on Thursday on the outskirts of the capital, Buenos Aires. Schäfer has been wanted in Chile in connection with child abuse charges since 1996, when he disappeared. Last year a Chilean court convicted him in his absence of child abuse, together with 26 other cult members.
Smiling and handcuffed, he refused to comment as police officers took him to a cell in a wheelchair.
Schäfer, one of South America’s most enigmatic fugitives, was the leader of a notorious German cult in southern Chile known as Colonia Dignidad.
A former corporal and medic in the German army during the Second World war, he moved to Chile in the early 1960s. He established a self-sufficient colony in the mountains near the city of Parral, 218 miles south of Santiago. Surrounded by barbed wire and electric fences, and largely populated by Germans, the cult remained cut off from the rest of Chile. Guardian online article 12th March 2005, ‘Fugitive Nazi Cult Leader Arrested’
Villa Baviera, Chile – A religious cult of German immigrants has broken decades of isolation from a world shocked by sex-abuse scandals in the group, the flight of its secretive leader and reports it once helped Chile’s military government torture political prisoners.
In exclusive interviews, members of the 280-person sect ended decades of public silence to tell Reuters they had emerged from a long nightmare to the painful realization their God-like guru – a fugitive facing child-sex charges – had broken apart their families and fostered physical abuse.
The sect came here in the 1960s following Paul Schaefer, a charismatic World War II German army nurse, who cult members thought was God on Earth and who preached an unnamed religion that said harsh discipline would draw them closer to the supreme being.
‘Everyone saw him as a celestial being and no one dared doubt him. People were blind here. It was a huge shock to discover the truth,’ said Michael Mueller, a 47-year-old member of the community’s newly elected reform committee. Fiona Ortiz, Reuters article 8th November 2004, ‘Secret Cult Breaks 43-Year Spell’
A secretive German community that according to a declassified CIA file operated as a cult and could have provided refuge for Nazi war criminals. Hunting Hitler s2e8: Nazi Colony, History 2017
Built with a military perspective. ibid.
Deep in the foothills of this mountain range set in this beautiful landscape of low forested hills and fast flowing rivers is a small community of Germans who have lived here for the last fifty years. But this is not Germany or even Europe and these mountains are not the Alps but the Andes in central Chile … Colonia Dignidad, the Dignity Colony. But behind this idyllic facade hides a place where unspeakable things have happened. The Colony: Chile’s Dark Past Uncovered, Al Jazeera 2013, Faris Kermani
‘A paedophiles’ paradise.’ ibid.
Its residents have revealed horrifying stories of child abuse and forced labour, torture and killings. ibid.
By 1962 [Paul] Schafer and his group had established themselves as a charity in central Chile. They set up a farm, a bakery and even a state-subsidised hospital that offered free treatment to the local population, all with the blessing of the Chilean authorities. Schafer had his own very particular vision of how his community should be organised. ibid.
Schafer was creating a community that obeyed and followed his every command and where everyone looked up to the Permanent Uncle as a god. All this control allowed Schafer a free run to do as he wished, not only with the adults but also with the children … ibid.
Schafer reinforced this power through an elaborate system of mutual betrayal. ibid.
Frightened that he would have face criminal charges Paul Schafer fled just as he had done nearly forty years earlier. Schafer’s inner circle continued to assert its hold over the colony, but with investigators on their heels, they had to make changes to cover their tracks. ibid.