Nazi pedophile sect: German prosecutors probe sex crimes of Chile’s WWII immigrant ‘colony’
Colonia Dignidad was initially established as an immigrant community by a group of Germans after World War II. The 13,000-hectare (50 sq mile) mountain “colony” lay in an isolated region 350km (217 miles) south of Santiago.
It was home to approximately 300 people from Nazi Germany and their descendents. In 1961 it was taken over by Paul Schaefer, a former Nazi corporal and medic.
He transformed the community into an isolated cult where his abuse of children went unchallenged. It had its own hospital and airport and was essentially self-governed without interference from the Chilean state.
Schaefer also struck a deal with Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet which saw political dissenters imprisoned and tortured in the commune. German diplomats in the Chilean embassy allegedly turned a blind eye to this arrangement.
Dr Hartmut Hopp
German prosecutors and representatives of the justice ministry met with Chilean judicial officials for nearly two hours on Tuesday for an update on an investigation into the commune, AFP reports.
The move comes as German courts consider an appeal filed by Dr Hartmut Hopp, who fled Chile in 2011 after being convicted of complicity in 16 cases of child abuse.
Hopp is widely thought to have been among the closest associates of Schaefer. He managed to flee to Germany before his sentence took legal effect. He lived freely in the western town of Krefeld for several years until a German court ruled last year that he must serve his five-year sentence.
"We have shared information, provided certain documents and opened the way for witnesses to testify in Germany,” Judge Mario Carroza told reporters.
The lives of colony members were tightly controlled by Schaefer. He decided who married who and followers had to confess their sins to him. People lived in dormitories and worked tough manual labor jobs. Newborn babies were taken from their mothers and raised by nurse women, referred to as aunts. Colonists adopted poor Chilean children from local families, ensuring Schaefer had a steady supply of victims.
Schaefer fled to Argentina in 1996 after families of abused children filed complaints against him. Colonia Dignidad was eventually seized by Chilean authorities in 2005.
Schaefer was deported back to Chile where he was sentenced to 20 years in prison for abusing and torturing children and other settlers. He died in April 2010.
Colonia Dignidad was renamed Villa Baviera and set up as a German themed resort. Many people who lived under Schaefer’s rule still reside there.
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