“In confinement, the benefit of massive screening has not been demonstrated” – Release

“In confinement, the benefit of massive screening has not been demonstrated” Release.

“Colonia Dignidad”, a Nazi ogre in Chile

According to online tour operators, Villa Baviera, in Parral, Chile, offers undeniable tourist attractions: this Alpine chalet-style establishment where one speaks Spanish, English and German, with outdoor pool and restaurant, is only found ” 9 km from the hot springs of Quinamávida and Panimávida. But how to explain on Trip Advisor that this small piece of Bavaria in the middle of the Andes was, from 1961 to 1997, the HQ of a sect, the Colonia Dignidad, led by a former Nazi, Paul Schäfer, guilty of rape on 200 young boys? And also a place of detention and torture of opponents of the Pinochet dictatorship, where the Dina, sinister political police led by Manuel Contreras, was responsible for burying the tortured in the garden of this pretty Bavarian villa, while in the common rooms, the children of Schäfer followers played theAlceste Gluck? Or that the Teutonic colony was also a secret laboratory for manufacturing weapons, including biological weapons, sarin gas for example?

Fresh flesh

Psychological hold, rape of children, forced labor, participation in the torture of victims of the Chilean dictatorship, arms trafficking … the list of crimes by Paul Schäfer is long. As long as the list of his protectors, since the former Nazi could count on General Pinochet, his police and his money, but not only. “The German Embassy, ​​I hold it in my hand”, said Schäfer, and it was true for a long time. German diplomats in Santiago did not hesitate to send back in the mouth of the wolf several little boys raped by the guru of the sect, poor fugitives who came to seek help and protection from the embassy. All this under the indifferent gaze of the government in Bonn, which considered, as Chancellor Helmut Kohl put it in 1991, that what was happening at Colonia Dignidad was exclusively the problem of Chile.

The casualness of the German and Chilean authorities will in particular allow Schäfer to rape children for forty years. After he gradually forbade the followers of the Colonia Dignidad to reproduce, separating men and women, children and parents, the birth rate of the sect finally fell in the 90s. In lack of fresh flesh, Schäfer the Minotaur therefore transformed the Colonia Dignidad into a daycare center for Chilean children. It is the latter that he will then rape, until one of them, Cristobal Parada, isolates himself in the toilets of the colony, the only room without a surveillance camera, to write “Help me, get me out of there, the man puts it inside me” on a piece of paper which he will discreetly slip to a friend who has come to spend the weekend, who will transmit it to his mother.

The following complaint nevertheless leads slowly but surely to the arrest of Schäfer, who nevertheless manages to evaporate in 1997, towards Argentina where he lives until his arrest in 2005 – he will die five years later in prison. He founded the Colonia Dignidad in 1961, but it is not the date of the beginning of his misdeeds, since in the 1950s, in Germany, he had taken in war orphans in his children’s home, where he committed a unspeakable number of rapes.


This monstrous story has been relatively little told on television or in the cinema, except for the thriller Colonia by Florian Gallenberger, released in 2015, and in any case largely fictionalized. Available on Arte.tv, the documentary series Colonia Dignidad, a German sect in Chile (four episodes) is all the more essential, especially since it perfectly points to the remaining gray areas of this file, notably political – the attitude of the German authorities, among others. All this is all the more analyzed as there is a large quantity of video archives on the subject, television reports, propaganda clips for the “Charitable works” Colonia Dignidad, Schäfer recordings and even amateur footage taken by cult followers during the arrest of their guru to intimidate the police. But the series above all has the merit of having collected an impressive number of testimonies of primary importance: from former followers of the sect to those tortured by Pinochet, German victims of rape to the Chilean investigator who had set himself the objective of arrest Schäfer, passing by relatives of the pedophile guru. They tell everything, in simple words and lots of details.

Take Karl van den Berg, for example. This former colony leader, one of Schäfer’s right-hand men, candidly explains that he participated in the torture of an opponent of the Pinochet regime, detained in a bunker: “Paul Schäfer asked me to bring a man something to eat and drink, to evacuate his needs. I also gave her water to wash. And then the man disappeared, overnight. I don’t know how he got there, I don’t know how he got away. ” Before letting go of this chilling sentence, heard a thousand times during the trials of former Nazis, from Adolf Eichmann to Oskar Gröning: “Schäfer ordered me to do this work. I fulfilled my mission. I don’t know more about the bazaar downstairs. “

Johanna Luyssen

Colonia Dignidad, a German sect in Chile Four episodes, available on Arte.tv until April 9.