Wednesday, October 26, 2011
A True Horror Story
This is the story of a small man named Schafer. Schafer was born into a time of violence and hatred and he embraced it was a lustful passion. He was a German who was part of the Hitler youth in his childhood. As a young adult, he embraced the Nazi mission and became a medic in the army, but his part in the Nazi atrocities was a small thing compared to the monster he was to become. As an adult, he became a Lutheran minister and set up a home for orphaned children. He seemed like a good man and many good German citizens followed him in his charitable crusade. They more than followed him, they worshipped him. To Schaffer's followers, he became a vision of God on Earth. He became a symbol of Christian goodness in their eyes and he became a cult leader to his followers. In 1959, he founded the Private Social Mission. Its purpose was to help poor children and those who followed him saw the goodness in this. Yet, that same year, Schafer had to flee West Germany. His followers fled with him and still believed in him, but the authorities wanted him for the sexual abuse of the very children he claimed to be trying to save.
Schafer took his hundreds of followers to Chile where he founded the Colonia Dignidad community. In this community his followers worked seven days a week, 12 hours a day to create Schafer's ideal utopia. It was in the Colonia that Schafer showed his true colors to his followers. He surrounded the colony in barbed wire fences and had a watch tower at the center of the camp. Descent or complaints were met severe punishment and torture. Schaffer built a medical facility in the camp that became renowned as a torture facility. Sex was strictly prohibited in the camp. One of his ex-followers described his punishment for breaking the laws of the camp. He and his wife had sex and she became pregnant. The couple attempted to flee the camp, but were captured. The woman was forced to have an abortion and tortured with electric shock and so was the man. The only sex that was allowed in the camp was that between Schaffer and the new orphans he had brought to the camp and the other children of the camp. He founded yet another orphanage and home for abandoned children and this time there was no limit to his cruelty. Schafer sexually abused the children and subjected them to bizarre experiments involving electroshock to the genitals to try to prevent them from maturing into adults.
Schafer's torture techniques became so famous that when dictator Pinochette took over Chile, he paid Schafer to use his medical wing for torture of political prisoners. Schafer's colony held the official torture chamber for the Pinochette dictatorship so Schafer had political sanction for his cruelty to his people and the people that were brought to him. After the Pinochette dictatorship collapsed, people finally began to report the atrocities that had been committed to them by Schaffer. Schafer fled the colony in 1997 after he was accused of child molestation and crimes against humanity. He wasn't convicted until 2006. He died in prison at the age of 88, but he thrived as the kind of monster that make fairy tale witches seem pleasant for decades.
I did wonder if the colony was haunted. It seems a place that bore witness to such horror must hold ghosts, but it seems the colony still remains somewhat active. In 2006, there were still residents at the camp. Schafer so sheltered his followers from the real world that even after the horror, they didn't know where to flee. They had been trapped in a world of work where everyone still wore 1950s garb and sung German folk songs. Those that live in the colony today don't speak of ghosts, but ask for forgiveness for the sins of their former leader. Sometimes, the real monsters are more terrifying than anything anyone can dream of and Schafer was one of those monsters.