Colonia Dignidad: Welcome To Hell
As we’ve noted several times, American horror films are taking a disturbing nose dive towards snuff flicks. The past five years have seen a rapid escalation of the sadism and torture quotient, notably movies like Hostel and the Saw series. Although I should probably just chalk it up to the Kali Yuga, it bothers me a lot because frankly, there’s very little fiction in these movies. (It also bothers me because these films are all pretty weak: after Passolini’s film Salo, there is absolutely nothing more that can be done with onscreen brutality. Don’t believe me? Watch it.)
Today we’re going to look at a little-known spot in Chile. Villa Baveria is the more recent moniker—but we’ll refer to by the name it used to be known as, which is Colonia Dignidad. I’ve had a number of readers express disgust and shock about our previous article on “The Finders,” and I would urge them not to read this at all. Colonia Dignidad was essentially a non-stop, decades-long version of the most brutal horror film ever made—and that’s probably an understatement.
Say Hello to Paul Schafer
Paul Shafer, like most German teenagers in the 30s and 40s, was a member of Hitler Youth. This is rather unexceptional, after all the current pope, Josef Ratzinger, was also a member of that prestigious organization, and he turned out just fine.
Shafer got medical training and spent WWII as a doctor for the Luftwaffe. After the war, he became a Baptist preacher and established several charitable organizations and orphanages under the name of his company, the Private Social Mission. In 1959, he was charged with molesting children in his care and he fled the country, apparently with over 70 loyal followers.
At this precise point, things get rather curious. Shafer not only fled the country, he left the continent and wound up in Chile with 70 square acres of land. How this happened is a matter of some dispute, but it’s clear that the ODESSA “rat lines” were involved, at least to some extent, in getting him out of the country and set up in Chile. (If you’re unfamiliar with ODESSA or Operation Paperclip, we will be addressing them shortly here on Brainsturbator.)
In the first of many soul-crushingly ugly twists, Shafer left Germany with dozens of the same german children he’d been charged with molesting—their parents were told the kids were going on a “mission” and would be only be gone a short while. Needless to say, those kids never saw Europe again.
Colonia Dignidad was formally founded in 1961, and by 2003 it was one of the world’s richest communes, at least according to an AP wire article published that year:
“Its timber products, baked goods and sausage, renowned for their quality, are sold nationwide. Its 65-bed hospital provides the region’s best health care. One of the commune’s elderly German hausfraus seems friendly enough, offering a traveler some apple juice for the road.”
Like a Neverending Vacation
Colonia Dignidad has to be the most ironic name since “The War on Drugs.” Shafer laid down some unthinkably weird and repressive rules, starting with a ban on sex. To enforce this, he kept the residents segregated by gender. Everyone had to work for food each day—generally for 12 to 14 hours, during which time nobody could speak.
Shafer titled himself ”Permanent Uncle,” and the members of his commune were in no position to argue. Most of them spoke only German and had nowhere to turn for thousands of miles.
In a relatively short time, Colonia Dignidad became a powerful state inside the state. Surrounded by the high-voltage barbed wire and “protected” by the latest surveillance technology and specially trained German Shepard dogs, it became almost entirely self-sufficient. It managed to produce enough food to feed its members and to sell its excess production in the stores of Santiago and elsewhere. It had its own power-plant, airport (big enough to accommodate Hercules transport planes), fleet of cars, busses, trucks and agricultural vehicles; a school, hospital and recording/broadcasting studio.
--from this informative Znet article.
Shafer exhaulted discipline above all things, proclaiming it the purest form of spirituality. Consequently, anyone who couldn’t measure up to his standards of discipline was beaten, tortured and drugged into submission.
...About that “Ban on Sex”
It will come as no surprise to learn that Paul Shafer himself didn’t abide by his own rules—unfortunately, Shafer’s concept of sex was “raping and torturing young boys.” Decades later, Shafer would be sued by the families of 11 children for brutal sexual abuse, and would be formally charged with molesting 26 boys. However, two Chilean journalists, Claudio Salinas and Hans Stange, have done a detailed study and concluded “the young victims could number in the thousands, including not only the sons and daughters of the German immigrants living in the commune, but also the children of local Chilean farming families who attended the Colonia Dignidad agricultural school.” Remember, this was ongoing for decades.
Stange was perfectly clear: “...it was known since 1964 that the members of the commune were being subjected to torture; it was known since 1977 that political prisoners were tortured there; and the child abuse was known about since the 1970s. The state has always known about the human rights violations occurring there.”
A Very Useful Monster
The reader could certainly be forgiven for asking why a psychotic pedophile Nazi was allowed to run a militarized compound in the middle of Chile. The answer is depressingly simple: he wasn’t a problem like David Koresh, he was a valuable asset like Oliver North. Having a camp full of brainwashed and terrified followers surrounded by gun turrets and electrified razor wire made Colonia Dignidad one of the primary torture camps for Chile’s US-supported dictator, Augusto Pinochet.
I would be very curious to know about the backgrounds of Shafer’s associates. When he was finally tried for human rights abuses and sex crimes, he was charged along with over 20 accomplices. There were an awful lot of employess at Dachau, Auchwitz, and Buchenwald. Also consider the following quote from Chile activist Adriana Borquez:
Right after the coup, the Chilean military didn’t know how to torture. Prisoners would die very quickly. Germans in the colony knew how to keep a person alive for several days or weeks while putting him or her through the most terrible agony and humiliation.
Of course, the entire nation of Chile, and indeed the entire continent of South America, was basically one big, live-action Heironymous Bosch painting during the 60s and 70s. This was almost entirely financed by United States taxpayers who had no idea it was happening. Of course, US taxpayers usually have no idea what’s happening anyway, so I suppose there’s nothing new there.
The problem, of course, was Communism. Henry Kissinger, surely the least deserving living human on Earth today, was hard at work engineering the overthrow of democratically elected leaders all over South America—so that the US could install dictators who would keep the people in line. When asked about human rights abuses in Chile, he had this to say:
“I don’t see why we need to stand by and watch a country go communist due to the irresponsibility of its people. The issues are much too important for the Chilean voters to be left to decide for themselves.”
This kind of unthinkably callous thinking is common to the monsters who inhabit Washington DC—his quote brings to mind the sick whore Madeline Albright, who was asked, on the TV show 60 Minutes, about the human cost of US sanctions against Iraq:
Lesley Stahl: We have heard that a half million children have died. I mean, that’s more children than died in Hiroshima. And, you know, is the price worth it?
Albright: I think this is a very hard choice, but the price--we think the price is worth it.
There were other torture camps in Chile, such as Villa Grimaldi, and I could quote endless and soul-crushingly horrific testimonies from survivors. For the sake of brevity—and your conscience—I’ll just quote the Amnesty International’s report summarizing what went on:
They tell how the Chilean military trained and financed by the United States tortured people with electric shock, particularly on the genitals; forced victims to witness the torture of friends and relatives (including children); raped women in the presence of other family members; burned sex organs with acid or scalding water; placed rats in women’s vaginas and into the mouths of other prisoners; mutilated, punctured, and cut off various parts of the body, including genitalia, eyes, and tongue; injected air into women’s breasts and into veins (causing slow, painful death); shoved bayonets and clubs into the vagina or anus, causing rupture and death.”
Today, this is entertainment for millions of white kids. I hear they’re making Saw 4, since the first three did so well.
Things Fall Apart
In 1990, the Pinochet dictatorship came to an end. Shafer must have known that his reign was drawing to a close, because a year later, the Colonia Dignidad was renamed Villa Baveria. His followers also began insisting he’d been dead for nearly a decade. The commune came under investigation for tax evasion, and in 1994 they lost their status as a tax-exempt charity. (That’s not a typo—from 1961 to 1994, they were a tax-exempt charity.) With 220 member still living on the Colonia grounds, Shafer at some point slipped out of the country. He was caught on March 10, 2005 (thanks Joe) in a sururb of Buenos Aires, Argentina. After years of detainment and awaiting trial, he was finally sentenced to 20 years in prison and fined 770 million pesos in May of 2006. He is still alive today.
The picture to the left is the gateway to a network of underground bunkers used for decades of nightmares. Obviously, most of the history behind Colonia Dignidad is lost today. Frankly, that’s a good thing, because what’s there was more than enough to cost me several weeks worth of sleep.
In 2005, another former German national from Colonia Dignidad was charged with torture and sexual abuse—her name was Gisela Seewald, and she defended herself by claiming she merely followed Shafer’s orders. (Given the track record of Germans invoking that defense, you’d think....well, nevermind.) She said that Shafer told her the children were “possessed by demons.” What’s most disturbing is the nature of her crimes: she administered electroshock therapy and a battery of sedatives and various psychoactive drugs to the children. To anyone famliar with MKULTRA and the Bluebird program, this is probably the most ominous combination you could hear. It also invokes Ewen Cameron’s horrific “sleep rooms” up at McGill during the 1950s and 60s.
The children were also kept in total isolation and darkness for long periods of time (a euphemism for “months") which invokes the ongoing abuses of the United States in gulags all across the world today. This is the same treatment being used in Guantanamo Bay and Abu Ghirab to destroy the minds of prisoners like Jose Padila, who is now a walking vegetable.
In the aftermath of Shafer’s arrest and imprisonment, the Chilean government investigated the former Colonia compound and made a rather surprising find: literally tons of weapons and ammunition.
“Believe me, what’s been discovered so far is of a dimension that can only be explained in a military context,” Interior Minister Jorge Correa said on Wednesday.
“We’re talking about a large arsenal and I must stress that it’s going to end up being the largest ever found in private hands in the life and history of Chile,” he said.
Of course, given all the facts presented here, the reader will be reassured to know that journalists are all over this story. For instance, here’s a BBC peice from 2005:
Details of life in the colony are hard to verify. Some visitors have described a scene from 1930s Germany, with women wearing aprons, with their hair in pigtails, and men in lederhosen.
Defenders say the members of the colony may be eccentric, but they are harmless, and in fact do good.
“I know them, and I like them,” Otto Dorr Zegers, a prominent Chilean psychiatrist who has worked in the Colonia Dignidad hospital, told the New York Times.
“Their ideology is a little bit old-fashioned, like that of the Mennonites who went to the United States, but nothing justifies the co-ordinated, synchronised lies and distortions that have been invented about them.”
They also describe him as an “alleged cult leader”—gotta be objective, right?
More horror to come, stay tuned.
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