Paul Schaefer, German Guilty of Chile Child Abuse, Dies at 89

The New York Times/April 24, 2010

Rio De Janeiro - A former Nazi-era German soldier who founded a secretive German cult in southern Chile, where he sexually abused about 25 children, died of heart failure at a prison hospital early Saturday, Chilean officials said. He was 89.

The former soldier, Paul Schaefer, was serving a 20-year sentence for the sexual abuse of minors, but he was also under investigation for the 1985 disappearance of Boris Weisfeiler, an American citizen who vanished while on a hiking trip.

The Chilean government said officially that Mr. Weisfeiler, then 43 years old, drowned while trying to ford a river. But State Department and C.I.A. reports that were later declassified indicated that he was probably kidnapped by Chilean state security forces, who then handed him over to Mr. Schaefer's heavily armed Colonia Dignidad religious sect based nearby. Dozens of opponents of Gen. Augusto Pinochet's dictatorship were tortured at Colonia Dignidad, according to human rights groups.

One military informant said that Mr. Weisfeiler, a Russian-born Jew, was held captive there, and that he was later tortured and executed.

A former nurse from the Luftwaffe, Mr. Schaefer was forced to leave Germany after he was charged with sexually abusing young boys in an orphanage he ran there. In 1961 he founded Colonia Dignidad, an anti-Semitic apocalyptic religious sect about 225 miles south of Santiago. Early last decade it still had about 300 inhabitants, and it still exists but is referred to as Villa Baviera.

Mr. Schaefer ran the sect with a heavy hand, banning almost all contact with the outside world, separating women from men and children from their parents, and controlling intimate contact. While he was never a hunted Nazi, Mr. Schaefer opened Colonia Dignidad for fugitive Nazis to hide out for periods of time.

After Chile's courts began investigating Mr. Schaefer for sexual abuse charges in the late 1990s, he fled to Argentina, where he hid until he was found in 2005. After being returned to Chile, he was sentenced to 20 years in prison for sexually abusing 25 children.

Mr. Schaefer was also sentenced to three years for violating weapons control law after a huge military arsenal was found on Colonia Dignidad grounds, to seven years for homicide and to three years for torture.

The disappearance of Mr. Weisfeiler, who was a mathematics professor at Pennsylvania State University, continues to be an unsolved mystery, and Mr. Schafer was never charged in the case.

Sebastián Piñera, Chile's president, said Saturday that while Mr. Schaefer now cannot be judged in court for additional crimes he was suspected of, "there is another justice that never ends, which is divine justice."

To see more documents/articles regarding this group/organization/subject click here.