HISTORY OF COLONIA DIGNIDAD
Paul Schaefer founded the “Private Social Mission”, a home and school for children of sect members, in Siegburg near Bonn. In Lohmar-Heide, the developing sect built its community building. To the outside world, they appeared to be a happy congregation that officially ran a youth home. But appearances and facts began to diverge. Slowly but surely, Schaefer’s followers had to give up their family ties completely. A “free Christian” could serve God better, according to Schaefer. Here as it had already been in the youth group, the most intimate “confessions” were required. As sect leader, Schaefer required sexual asceticism from his believers; as a dominant paedophile, he sexually abused young boys. The group showed itself early as capable of turning a profit. Grocery stores were founded. The members of the sect had to work hard without earning wages for their work.
After the beginning of an investigation by the public attorney’s office on suspicion of sexual abuse, the members of the sect fled to Chile, where the Colonia Dignidad was founded in 1961. Schaefer drew people to him with his “return to the roots of a Christian life in the promised land” and scared many other hesitant or fearful followers with rumours of a threatening Russian invasion into Germany. In just a few years, a “model community” of about 15,000 hectares of fenced-in land was formed through untiringly driven work. The German settlers built roads and bridges and dug a gold mine and a titanium mine. Early on, a hospital was opened as the figurehead of the community, in order to provide residents with free medical care. The children of Chilean farmers were the ones who wound up paying for it. Colonia Dignidad offered young boys food and education through the Colonia’s boarding school. If the parents accepted, then the best-looking boys landed in Schaefer’s bed.
The first two Germans fled the Colonia. They told tales of forced labour and child abuse. No one believed them.
After the Chilean coups of 1973, the German National Socialist Hans-Ulrich Rudel settled there. The Colonia was outfitted as the operational basis of Pinochet’s secret service DINA. It was also the base for the ANDREA project (Alianza Nacionalista de Republicas Americanas, English: National Alliance of American Republics). This project was aimed at the cooperation of Latin American national socialists, secret service agents, and anti-Semites with extreme right tendencies.
UNICEF and Amnesty International began tracking the “settlement” of about 350 people in 1977. Escaped occupants reported believably that the Colonia was used as a torture centre for decades by the Chilean secret service during the Pinochet regime. Later, it came out that Chilean citizens were held captive and used as forced labourers in Colonia Dignidad. In the “tradition” of German concentration camps, medical experiments were performed on captives. Children of the sect community were regularly abused.