Colonia Dignidad logo

The official emblem of Colonia Dignidad, from a sign posted at its gate.

Members who try to leave La Colonia are drugged and beaten. Wolfgang Müller, who now lives under a different name, testified beatings and electroshock are routinely used to discipline residents. Muller, who had been molested by Schaefer since the age of 12, also said he was given "memory-altering drugs" whenever he became "rebellious" [19].

Another member, Wilhelmine Lindeman, told similar stories when she escaped shortly after Muller in 1966. Doctors found evidence Lindeman had received several recent injections. But only days later, following a visit from Colonia president Herman Schmidt, she retracted all of her statements, returned to La Colonia and was never heard from again [20].

A male nurse prepares a hypodermic needle at the Colonia Dignidad hospital ca. 1988. The hospital offered free care to its impoverished neighbors, but locals feared its doctors. Former residents have testified that male children as young as six were given injections of unknown chemicals directly into their testicles. Victims of DINA/CIA-sponsored torture were also 'treated' using hospital facilities.
(photo: Time, May 26, 1988.)

Over 20 years later the 1985 testimony of four ex-members before the West German parliament showed little had changed. Georg Packmoor, who fled with his wife and now lives in Canada, said "No one even dares thinking of escaping." [21]. Packmoor's wife, Lotti, said "young boys [were] given injections in their testicles" and that she once watched Schaefer beat a young girl bloody [22]. The Packmoors said these sadistic treatments were intended to "destroy individual personalities" and reduce residents to mindless slaves. Tragically, they had to leave their adopted son behind when they escaped [23].

In 1984 one of Colonia Dignidad's cofounders, Hugo Baar, fled calling it "a group that has become poisoned with lies." Baar gave chilling new details of La Colonia's close relations with DINA, Pinochet's secret police. "These are gruesome matters," he said [24]. He described Schaefer as a "paranoid dictator" who rode around in a bullet-proof white Mercedes-Benz carrying weapons and ammunition. Baar left behind nine children [25].


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