Paul Schafer, former Nazi Luftwaffe medic turned “Guru of Sadism,” was finally arrested in March (2005) in the cult town he founded with German emigres, Villa Baviera in Chile. Called Colonia Dignidad until Pinochet’s dictatorship fell in 1990, Villa Baviera was the home for Schafer’s secret, paramilitary religious group.
Pinochet’s regime turned over some of its leftist victims to Schafer and his cultists. The prisoners were tortured and murdered in the catacombs built under Villa Baviera, as the colony’s choir sang for the entertainment of Pinochet’s wife Lucia in an auditorium in the town above. The town maintained a “hospital” where anyone who displeased Schafer was drugged and tortured. In totalitarian nazi fashion, Schafer, called “The Permanent Uncle” by followers, controlled every aspect of the cultists’ personal lives, including whom should marry and when. And for much of the twentieth century, Schafer chose boys between the ages of 8 and 12 to sexually abuse.
After decades of protection by Chilean military elites, in 1998 Schafer was finally charged with sodomy and pedophilia against 26 neighboring peasant boys, whose families complained. Schafer dropped out of sight, and Villa Baviera was controlled by his proteges, who threatened cultists with his return to keep order.
Now that Schafer is 85 and in prison, residents of Villa Baviera take refuge in silence and denial, refusing to discuss the human rights atrocities carried out by their community, and only blaming Schafer for the molestation of their own boys. They are comforted by the wealth the colony has accumulated.
Explaining the effects of the right-wing, Christian, authoritarian terror that reigned over and through the community, psychiatrist Luis Peebles (a former political prisoner and victim of Villa Baviera) said, “These people are accomplices to horrendous crimes, yes, but they have been programmed like robots and were treated as slaves, robbed of their own human rights.” The new leaders of the colony, men in their 40s and 30s, were almost without exception sexually molested by the Permanent Uncle.
From the New York Times, May 16, 2005, page A4.