Women residents of Colonia Dignidad gather in a courtyard there. Though not discernable here, the flag flown is German.
[photo: Time magazine May 26, 1988]

Baar testified alongside the Packmoors in 1985, but their accounts were kept secret by the West German government for several years [26]. Later it was revealed that La Colonia enjoys close ties with officials at the West German Embassy in Santiago [27]. Furthermore, the Bonn government was sending $50-$80,000 in pensions to colony residents every month [28].

Colonia Dignidad's German roots remained quite green.

The cult first came to Chile in 1961, but it all began several years earlier in West Germany. Sometime around 1956, Paul Schaefer and Hugo Baar met in Sieburg, near Bonn, the seat of the West German government.

Hugo Baar has been described as a "Baptist minister and a Russian-German exile" who fled the Ukraine following World War II. He established a religious colony in Westphalia in 1955, later packing up and moving to Sieburg. There he met Shaefer, a former corporal in the Nazi army who was himself a budding religious leader. Baar helped Schaefer organize what became The Beneficient and Educational Society of Dignity [29].

The Society of Dignity grew quickly, and among its various enterprises was an orphanage. In 1960 Schaefer was sought by police on charges of sexually abusing boys there. The following year he and 60 members of the Society fled Germany to Chile. A number of the followers who went abroad were children, some of whom were "taken under false pretenses" according to complaints filed with the West German authorities [30].

Shortly after their arrival in Chile, Schaefer and his German flock acquired a hacienda called El Lavadero near Parral. There they founded Colonia Dignidad, building a "model farm" and calling itself a "cultural and welfare society." Soon, Parral became what one historian would later call a "geographical center of Nazism" [31].


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