World News

Dark secrets of Nazi paedo cult leader’s base where gruesome torture was rife

Don’t miss a thing by getting the Daily Star’s biggest headlines straight to your inbox!

Visitors to the Hotel Villa Baviera give it rave reviews on Tripadvisor, praising its scenery and great food.

But some might not realise that the three-star accommodation in rural Chile stands on a site with a dark history horrifying enough to give even the soundest sleepers nightmares.

Previously, the land was part of Colonia Dignidad, a commune that was home to a secretive cult led by a former Nazi soldier, who fled to South America after World War Two.

German Paul Schafer oversaw torture and abuse at the site, thanks to protection from the Chilean government, over several years. For some years it was even a death camp.

Evil Nazi Dr Josef Mengele, who carried out sick experiments on concentration camp victims, was among visitors.

Now, the colony is the subject of a new Netflix documentary, A Sinister Sect, Colonia Dignitad, which sheds new light on the horrors that played out there for decades after it was created in 1961.

Schafer served as a medic in World War Two and claimed he lost an eye fighting for his country. In actual fact, he lost it after stabbing himself with a fork at the dinner table as a child.

After the war he began working for a church as a youth leader. Allegations he was abusing children soon followed.

Next he set up a children's home and orphanage and launched a sect, heavily influenced by the teachings of 'doomsday cult' leader William Branham, who also inspired Peoples Temple founder Jim Jones.

Schafer preached an extreme version of the Bible which said the apocalypse was nigh.

Faced with more child sex abuse allegations, he and hundreds of his followers fled to Chile in the early 1960s. The South American country became a haven for Nazis who fled Germany after World War Two.

Once there, he established Colonia Dignidad, a small remote town complete with an air strip, accommodation blocks and small factories.

To the outside world it was portrayed as an old fashioned commune where the men farmed the land while the women embroidered clothes and made butter, all dressed in traditional Bavarian clothing.

The camp hospital treated thousands of poor local people, a gravel mill supplied rock to build the country's roads.

It was a picture of wholesome values, community involvement and happy residents who just wanted to live their own way of life.

The reality was far different.

Schafer ruled the community with a rod of iron. High fences, armed guards and watchtowers kept residents in and visitors out.

Families were broken up and not allowed to live together. Men and women were forced to live separately and sex was banned unless Schafer, aka "The Permanent Uncle", chose people based on genetics, to have more children to grow the commune.

Residents were frequently drugged to keep them docile and discipline was savage with beatings carried out on those who broke the rules. There was no TV or radio and residents were made to work long hours for no pay.

The ban on sex did not extend to Schafer who continued to abuse children.

Schafer also had strong ties to the evil Chilean dictator, General Augusto Pinochet, who maintained his grip on power by torturing tens of thousands of his opponents and killing hundreds of others.

For years Colonia Dignidad was a secret prison and torture centre for political dissidents – Pinochet used it as his very own death camp.

Hundreds were abused, suffering electric shocks, beatings and savaging by dogs. It is believed more than 100 people were murdered at the site. Some of Schafer's child abuse victims were also tortured there.

One high profile victim of the "disappearances" which plagued the country under Pinochet was Boris Weisfeiler, an American mathematician who vanished while walking in the area.

It has also been claimed the site, which had its own armoury, was used as centre to create biological weapons.

In 1990, after Pinochet was deposed, investigations started into the camp but it remained open, with high ranking officials tipping Schafer off when it was due to be raided.

Finally, in 1996 Schafer disappeared, after more than 20 local children who had used the camp's educational facilities, said he had raped them.

He was found eight years later in Argentina, extradited and was eventually jailed for 20 years in 2006. He died of heart failure in 2010. Other cult leaders were also prosecuted for child abuse. Pinochet died in 2006.

These days, the settlement is called Villa Baviera. Residents of the colony are now free to leave, and the site is open for tourism.

Netflix's series, A Sinister Sect, Colonia Dignidad, is released on Friday October 1.

  • Military
  • Netflix
  • World War 2

Source: Read Full Article