October 1, 2008: The article describes Colonia Dignidad, an evangelical cult consisting of German expatriates living in the foothills of the Andes in Chile. The colony was founded and led by Paul Schaefer, a preacher who liked to portray the colony as an utopia maintaining an idyllic German lifestyle. However, investigations by Amnesty International as well as the governments of Chile, Germany, and France have revealed numerous crimes, including child molestation, forced labor, weapons trafficking, money laundering, kidnapping, torture, and murder.
The social structure of the colony was created to keep Schaefer and his main subordinates firmly in control. Babies were separated from their parents after birth and put into youth groups to ensure their brainwashing. All members were forced to regularly confess all their "sins", and the names of the sinners were written up in public for all to see. Men and women lived separately to protect them from "temptation". Those who rebelled against this order were sometimes tortured with electric shocks.
Schaefer himself was a pedophile and abused young boys. In a staged ceremony in the mid-1970s, he appeared to kill Santa Claus with a pistol before the assembled children of the colony, thus ending Christmas celebrations from then on. He also aggressively expanded the territory of the colony, at one time burning down a small chapel and driving away the nuns who lived there.
When Augusto Pinochet came to power in Chile, he allied themselves with the colony. The colony instructed DINA (secret police) agents in the practices of torture, and it housed secret prisons and laboratories where the government researched chemical weapons. Furthermore, there are strong hints that many political prisoners were executed within the colony.
Schaefer started to hide within the bunker complexes in 1996 when a warrant for his arrest was made. He likely fled the colony itself in 1997, but initially life continued within pretty much as before. Schaefer was finally arrested in Argentina in 2004.
Game and Story Use
- Colonia Dignidad works almost perfectly as a template for an evil cult.
- Perhaps that ceremony wasn't staged, and Paul Schaefer really did kill Santa Claus. Which might explain why Christmas has become a mere commercial exercise since then.