The story of Colonia Dignidad is one of pain, brainwashing, and horrific abuses of power. The name "Colonia Dignidad" means "Colony of Dignity" in Spanish, which is certainly ironic considering the events that took place there.
Colonia Dignidad was a Nazi cult in Chile, located south of Santiago. It was lead by a former Nazi Colonel named Paul Schäfer, a known pedophile who ran the commune on the labor of orphans.
As if that wasn't bad enough, the compound was also used regularly by the Chilean secret police for torture sessions and even murders of political dissenters. The true story of Colonia Dignidad was turned into a 2015 feature film called Colonia, starring Emma Watson. Colonia Dignidad survivors have verified that it captures the spirit of the pain and trauma that occurred within the cult's walls.
A Former Nazi Colonel, Paul Schäfer Survived The Post-Hitler Years By Working As A Preacher And Running An Orphanage
Paul Schäfer tried to hide his past as a Nazi Colonel after World War II ended. He traveled around the countryside working as a minister, playing the part of a pious and trustworthy German citizen. His new career was ideal for staying under the government's radar, since Nazi war criminals were being hunted down. The founding of the orphanage may have been an extension of his religious front – or possibly inspired by his pedophilic nature.
He Was Charged With Sexually Abusing Two Boys In 1961, So He Packed Up His Followers And Fled To Chile
Paul Schäfer already had a reasonably strong cult following when he was accused of pedophilia in Germany in 1961. His solution to that problem was to flee to Chile, joining thousands of other former Nazi officials and war criminals in the migration to South America. He managed to arrange for many of his followers, as well as the orphans he had been caring for, to come along. They began a new community in a new country, but with the same strongly antisemitic values.
Schäfer was considered to be a very charismatic leader, in spite of the fact that he had a glass eye as a result of a childhood accident (involving trying to tie his shoes with a fork). Supposedly, that just added to his charm.
He Received Help From The Underground Network Of Nazis In South America
In the years following World War II, as many as 9,000 Nazi war criminals fled to the safe haven of South America. The President of Argentina even established escape routes for German officers known as "ratlines," by which thousands of Nazis were smuggled out of Europe. Included among them were Josef Mengele and, of course, the wanted pedophile Paul Schäfer.
He Took Over The German Compound Of Colonia Dignidad And Fortified It With Barbed Wire And German Shepherd Dogs
What was once a harmless community of German immigrants soon became something horrifying in the case of Colonia Dignidad. Schäfer quickly took over the compound located some 200 miles south of the Chilean capital of Santiago and completely changed the narrative. He became almost a god-like figure to his followers, and he started to control how they went about their daily lives. He heavily fortified the compound, stripping the members of their freedom. He even decided who was to be raised by whom, taking babies away from their mothers to be raised communally.