Torture Town: Chile’s Colonia Dignidad

September 12, 2013
Sign marking the perimeter, note depiction of bound human figure

Sign marking the perimeter, note depiction of bound human figure

September 11th marks not only the devastating attack on The World Trade Center and Pentagon, but also the brutal 1973 CIA-instigated Coup in the country of Chile. In the many days of street fighting, the Socialist government of Salvador Allende was overthrown by the Fascist Augusto Pinochet. This dictatorship, which catered to the whims of American corporations bent on resource extraction, began rounding up and killing thousands of protestors and dissidents. 40 to 50,000 people were rounded up, interrogated and many were tortured and killed.
Some of them ended up in the Nazi enclave known as “Colonia Dignidad”.

pinochet
Augusto Pinochet

Colonia Dignidad was established in 1961 by former Nazi medic Paul Shaefer. Shaefer, who sported a glass eye due to a self-inflicted “fork wound”, attracted a group of followers to his small religious cult as he wandered Germany in lederhosen playing a guitar. The group gradually expanded until Shaefer was accused of molesting boys and fled Germany where he joined other Nazi criminals in South America, in this case Chile.
The remote estate he purchased was flanked by tall mountains and a swift river. The land was perfect for farming, and the cult set to work building a small expatriate German empire, estimated to be some 70,000 acres.
Shaefer’s Group practiced an austere form of Christianity (allegedly meshed with Teutonic Paganism) and wore 1940’s-era German clothing. The men and women were kept in separate residences, and the children were removed from the parents to be raised by “aunties”. Dicipline was severe, and the members of the cult worked long hours building a self-sufficient and industrious community. They offered medical services and adopted children from the nearby villages.
With the 1973 Fascist takeover of Chile, Shaefer found a friend in Augusto Pinochet. In fact, the feared Chilean secret police, the “DINA”, used Colonia Dignidad as one of their torture centers. According to multiple sources, both escaped Nazis Martin Bormann and Josepf Mengele sought refuge in the German colony. Bormann, who faked his death in Germany led the reconstruction of “The Underground Reich”. Bormann’s management laundered an untold amount of stolen Nazi loot into foreign firms for it’s use in today’s world. Mengele is best known for the horrible experiments he conducted on prisoners, some of which continued at Colonia Dignidad.

The entrance to Colonia Dignidad

The entrance to Colonia Dignidad

In his excellent article in “The American Scholar”, Bruce Falconer describes the paranoia in the colony:

“The outer perimeter of Colonia Dignidad was marked by eight-foot fences topped with barbed wire, which armed groups of men patrolled day and night with German shepherd and doberman attack dogs. Guards in observation posts equipped with shortwave radios, telephones, binoculars, night vision equipment, and telephoto cameras scanned the landscape for intruders. These were, of course, imaginary. But if invaders were to succeed in getting through the perimeter, they would come upon a second tier of inner defenses: strands of copper wire hidden around the village, which, if stepped on, triggered a silent alarm. Doors and windows in most buildings were equipped with armored shades that could be drawn shut in the event of an invasion. Dormitories were outfitted with alarms and surveillance cameras, and the entire village sat atop an extensive network of tunnels and underground bunkers. When the alarm sounded, as it frequently did during practice drills, men belonging to the security force grabbed their rifles and waited on their doorsteps for instructions.

With no genuine external enemies to fight, Schaefer and his most trusted lieutenants turned their energies inward. The practice of confession provided them with plenty of people to punish. The guilty were starved, threatened with dogs, or beaten—sometimes by Schaefer himself, more often by others acting on his orders. The harshest treatment was reserved for those who, for one reason or another, Schaefer simply did not like. He called them “the rebels.” They could be identified by their clothing: the men wore red shirts and white trousers, the women potato sacks over their long dresses. The other colonos despised them, usually without knowing why.”
***
“All challengers to Schaefer’s authority—real or imagined—were rooted out and destroyed. No one inspired greater love and admiration among the children of the Colonia than Santa Claus. It is said that in the days shortly before Christmas one year in the mid-1970s, Schaefer gathered the Colonia’s children, loaded them onto a bus, and drove them out to a nearby river, where, he told them, Santa was coming to visit. The boys and girls stood excitedly along the riverbank, while an older colono in a fake beard and a red and white suit floated towards them on a raft. Schaefer pulled a pistol from his belt and fired, seeming to wound Santa, who tumbled into the water, where he thrashed about before disappearing below the surface. It was a charade, but Schaefer turned to the children assembled before him and said that Santa was dead. From that day forward, Schaefer’s birthday was the only holiday celebrated inside Colonia Dignidad.”
***
“Colonia Dignidad, according to a former DINA agent assigned there in the mid-1970s, maintained powerful radio equipment, facilitating communication between DINA commanders in Chile and their agent saboteurs and assassins stationed abroad. In 2005, Michael Townley, an American expatriate and former DINA officer implicated in several high-profile assassinations and bombings, testified to a Chilean judge that the Colonia had also housed a secret laboratory, where government scientists developed chemical weapons. Schaefer’s primary contribution to Pinochet’s operations, however, came in the instruction of DINA agents in the science of torture. Soon after the coup, arrested political dissidents began to disappear into Colonia Dignidad.”
——————-

Shaefer, who had returned to his practice of molesting children, was adept at torture and served the Chilean Secret Police well. According to this source, the U.N. and Amnesty International both investigated:

“Colonia Dignidad’s role as a center of political terror in Chile began to emerge only three years after Allende’s overthrow. One of the few victims to leave alive said one tormentor had told them, “The work of the Reich continues here.” [44].

The first to expose the truth was the United Nations. A human rights commission report released in October 1976 stated:

…in Colonia Dignidad there is a specially equipped underground torture center with small soundproofed cells, hermetically sealed. The detainees’ heads are covered with leather hoods, which are stuck to their faces with chemical adhesives. In these cells, interrogations are carried out through electronic equipment, including loudspeakers and microphones, while detainees are tied naked to metal frames to receive electric shocks.” [45].
The UN’s report also documented dogs trained to attack and destroy the sexual organs of both sexes, experiments testing torture tolerance limits, and the use of special psychoactive drugs on subjects [46]. The UN commission found that the DINA-sponsored torture chambers of Colonia Dignidad were being used as “research center” to continue Mengele’s work of refining the art of torture.

…prisoners have allegedly been subjected to different ‘experiments’ without any interrogation… Prisoners charge that torture is ‘personalized’ through an initial interrogation which establishes the personal traits of the individual… This data is then used to program the torture sessions so that the result is a totally debilitated person who wil comply with any demand [47].
In 1977, another former prisoner came forward. Juan Rene Munoz Alarcon was a Socialist Party member turned DINA collaborator. Munoz was later imprisoned by Pinochet for trying to protect an old leftist friend. In a taped deposition to the Catholic Church’s human rights group in Santiago, Munoz indentified Colonia Dignidad as one of several places where disappeared political prisoners were taken by security forces. Shortly after giving his deposition to the Church group, Juan Munoz was found stabbed to death by parties unknown [48].

Later that same year, Amnesty International issued a report further documenting Colonia Dignidad’s secret torture and detention centers. Portions of the report were even reprinted in the German news magazine, Stern.

Including testimony from both former prisoners and agents who worked there, the Amnesty report confirmed the hermetically sealed underground torture chambers. It confirmed prisoners were tied naked to electrified frames with leather hoods glued to their faces. There were more brutal accounts of “interrorgations over a closed-circuit radio system.” [49].

In the report, ex-DINA agent Samuel Fuenzalida testified that he delivered prisoners to the colony. Fuenzalida was received by a man called “the professor”, whom he identified from photographs as being Colonia patriarch, Paul Schaefer [50]. A number of surviving prisoners have also identified Schaefer as being personally involved in their confinement and torture. His glass eye and heavy German accent make him easily indentifiable [51].

Schaefer and the colony sued both Stern and Amnesty for libel, a battle which went on for some 20 years until the court finally ruled against him.”
———————————–

After repeated reports of torture and abuse, more recent Chilean officials began to investigate Colonia Dignidad. Paul Shaefer was forced to flee into underground bunkers to evade several police raids. He was eventually captured in Argentina, returned to Chile and was imprisoned. Shafer died in prison at the age of 88.
Forensic experts exumed many, many bodies and vehicles used by the dissidents that disappeared into Colonia Dignidad. A few live to testify about the abuse and torture.

In January of 2013, victims of Colonia Dignidad filed a $120 million-dollar lawsuit against the Governments of Chile and Germany for compensation. It doesn’t seem like nearly enough.

For more information on Colonia Dignidad, refer to the embedded links above and to these articles:

The American Scholar

Peter Lavenda’s article

Wikipedia on Colonia Dignidad

Colonia Blog: http://coloniablog.com/

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7 Responses to Torture Town: Chile’s Colonia Dignidad

  1. […] commune and he also took up other initiatives, such as torture instruction, in collaboration with former Nazi officials — including Martin Bormann and Josef Mengele, according to some […]

  2. Susan Klopfer on February 13, 2015 at 4:56 am

    Finally, a few people are writing about this tragedy, but I keep hearing there is even more to the story. Were there German scientists housed at Dignidad? If so, what were they doing there? I am also interested in results of recent trials, and also involvement of the CIA, and of Michael Townley, the American son of a Ford executive working in Santiago. Lots more to learn.

    • DR on February 13, 2015 at 3:50 pm

      Thanks Susan;

      I haven’t dug into it yet but I have a copy of Ladislas Farago’s “Aftermath” about Martin Bormann in Chile/Argentina.

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ladislas_Farago

      Critic’s disagree with some of Farago’s conclusions, but much is correct from the reports I have read. Supposedly Heinrich Mueller set Farago up with intentional disinformation to keep him off the trail and call his reporting to question.

      Also, if you do a word search you can find an online version of “Martin Bormann, Nazi in Exile.

      I will check out your website and thanks for the comment,
      -J

      • Susan Klopfer on February 20, 2015 at 11:59 am

        Thanks for the links! I am also looking for info on Boris Weisfeiler, Michael Townley, and CIA involvement, particularly with MKULTRA. Will appreciate any help. Meanwhile, I’m linking your site on my blog. sk

        • DR on February 20, 2015 at 4:22 pm

          Robert Parry, who broke the Iran-Contra case, has several good articles on Michael Townly. Here’s an early summary of George Bush Sr. and Townley:

          http://www.thirdworldtraveler.com/Terrorism/GBush_CIA_StateTerror.html

          Also “George Bush – The Unauthorized Biography” by Webster Tarpley and Anton Chaitkin, p 318-319, 320 (more on Townley and the operation)

          Robert Parry “Secrecy & Privilege” p. 57, 60-65
          (Townley)

          JFK reseachers different take on Townley:
          http://educationforum.ipbhost.com/index.php?showtopic=7821

          Townley worked under David Atlee Phillips, allegedly involved in the JFK assassination

          I am just getting caught up on the Weisfeiler case, but there appears to be quite a bit on the net. Peter Kornbluh seems to have the most info on Chile in general:

          http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Peter_Kornbluh

          Thanks for checking in, I’m putting a link to your Colonia blog in the article above
          -J

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