Gabriel Boric and Olaf Scholz agreed to create a memorial of their atrocities in the former Colonia Dignidad
During his visit to Chile, the German chancellor agreed with the Chilean president that they will work together to transform this center of abuse and torture run by former Nazi leaders in the south of the South American country
Cristián Torresfrom Santiago, Chile
Olaf Sholz in Chile revealed a plan to convert Colonia Dignidad in a memory space
In a conference between the two leaders, Gabriel Boric and Olaf Sholz confirmed their willingness to “contribute to the search for the truth” about the Colonia Dignidad , the enclave that Nazi leader Paul Schäfer led for decades in southern Chile and announced the idea of turning it into a memorial.
In the midst of his official visit to Chile, which ended this Sunday, Olaf Scholz expressed his willingness to build a memorial site in what is now known as Villa Baviera, an enclave created by Nazi non-commissioned officer Paul Schäefer that operated as a detention center for the military dictatorship.
“We fully support and appreciate the will of the German Government to contribute to the search for the truth and make the former Colonia Dignidad a space of memory. It is the role of the Chilean State, in all its dimensions, to continue fighting tirelessly for all the truth and all justice,” Boric said at the joint press conference with Scholz from the Government Palace.
Scholz, for his part, indicated that his government is available to “contribute” to the creation of a memory space in the former place of operation, located almost 400 kilometers south of Santiago and which meant one of the most controversial chapters in the relationship between the two countries. “We know that this is a sensitive issue, it is not easy to find a solution. So, in all prudence, we want to offer our support and do what we can do. We are a partner in this context”, said the Chancellor.
Colonia Dignidad was a settlement considered “sectarian”, which was a meeting place for Germans who they fled their country and became residents of southern Chile. Over the years, serious crimes began to be revealed, especially concentrated between 1961 and 2005. The members of the sect and their children were isolated, exploited, and sexually abused.
The leader of the Colonia Dignidad sect, Paul Schäfer, on the day who was arrested after remaining a fugitive from justice convicted of a series of sexual abuse and torture
Over the years and the course of various investigations, background information was released that reconstructed a macabre story. In addition to the sexual abuse and harassment denounced by some former residents of Colonia Dignidad, the military edge was also added, when background information and testimonial documents were revealed that proved a link between the leader Paul Schäefer and the former dictator Augusto Pinochet. Along with the abuses committed against minors, the compound was also used as a center for political prison, torture and disappearance of people, in addition to providing support with a sophisticated military and intelligence infrastructure made available to the Pinochet regime.
In Chile, Scholz's statement is important, because a short time ago, the lawyer representing six victims of Colonia Dignidad, Hernán Hernández, warned that the German authorities continue to maintain a relationship with the hierarchs of the settlement , which changed its name to Villa Baviera.
In October 2021, after the launch of the series “Colonia Dignidad: a German sect in Chile”, published by Netflix, the representative of the victims referred to the privileged position that still maintained by the leaders of Colonia Dignidad in Chile.In a letter sent as legal representative of the victims, Hernán Hernández described that “today in Colonia Dignidad the real victims coexist with the new oppressors who are the sons of the former hierarchs and other allies of these hierarchs who kept all the patrimony they they use it ambitiously and selfishly,” he says.
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The professional adds that they demanded that the Chilean and German authorities “fulfill their duty”. He continues to criticize the slowness of the investigative processes, for what he considers a lack of will. “There have been decades, 50 years of impunity, injustice, scandals and the political authorities of Chile and the political authorities and German diplomacy have not fulfilled their duties (…) They care more the structures and the existence of the companies that the real victims and by supporting the companies are responsible for the oppression and injustice that they represent,” the letter states, where they also reject the release of Dr. Hartmut Hopp in the European nation, who played a fundamental role as Schaeffer's representative, and is therefore also responsible for the abuses that were committed there.
“Colonia Dignidad is a tragedy, it is not caused by a natural disaster, this is a humanitarian disaster for which successive presidents are responsible,” said lawyer Fernández, who added that “the dictatorship was a criminal accomplice and democratic governments have been passive accomplices the misfortune of the victims. Generations of victims and decades of negligence by the State of Chile ”.
He also rejected the tourist activities that take place in the former Colonia Dignidad, something that he also describes in the missive. In it, he called on the former Minister of Justice and Human Rights, in the government of Sebastián Piñera, Hernán Larraín to resign from his position and to apologize for having defended those responsible for his violations.
Documentary excerpt "Colonia Dignidad: A German sect in Chile"
Olaf Scholz's visit to Chile begins a new chapter in the history of Colonia Dignidad in Chile. Both leaders did not ignore the demands of the victims and spoke about the need to address the issue, now with the idea of creating a memorial on the site. The process that this plan continues will be watched by victims and children of victims who for years have demanded reparation and justice.