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Sept. 7, 2021

Colonia Dignidad | Chile's Secret Nazi Cult


In today’s episode of Let’s Start a Cult – the story of Colonia Dignidad, a religious commune established on the foothills of Chile’s Andes Mountains. 

To outsiders, it seemed like a self-sustaining Christian community that strived to give back to the locals. However, it would later be revealed that it had ties to both Nazi Germany and the Pinochet government, which killed over three thousand people while a thousand more remain missing to this day.


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Sources for this episode include The American Scholar, The Washington Post, the European Center for Constitutional and Human Rights, Bustle, The International Business Times, The Telegraph, the Deutsche Welle, The New York Times, The Guardian, BBC, and Al Jazeera English. Sources for this episode include All That’s Interesting, a Medium article by Lisa Marie Fuqua titled “The Ripper Crew Satanic Cannibal Cult Murders,” Listverse, Murderpedia, Windy City Ghosts, The Chicago Tribune, and CBS Chicago.



This podcast uses the following third-party services for analysis:

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Chartable - https://chartable.com/privacy
Transcript
Josh:

Hi, Fred.

Josh:

My name is Josh shell host to the let's start a cult podcast.

Josh:

The only podcast hosts addicted to Kool-Aid.

Josh:

I prefer the fruit punch.

Josh:

I find the great flavor has a deadly aftertaste anyways, with all of that out of the way, let me introduce to you my lovely guest today.

Josh:

She is one of the hosts of the yield crime podcast, the podcast that discusses strange and spooky stories from the past, from unicorn horns to the devil, these girls covered.

Josh:

Please welcome to the covenant Lindsey, Valenti Lindsey.

Josh:

How are you doing today?

Lindsay:

I'm doing well.

Lindsay:

Thank you for having me.

Josh:

Awesome.

Josh:

. Great to have you.

Josh:

So, in today's episode of the let's start a cult, we will be discussing the story of Colonia Digna, tad, a religious commune established in the foothills of the Chili's Andes mountain.

Josh:

To outsiders, it seems like a self-sustaining Christian community that strive to give back to the locals.

Josh:

However, it would later be revealed that it had ties to , both Nazi Germany and the Pinochet government, which killed over 3000 people will a thousand more remained missing to this day.

Josh:

Now, Lindsay, you actually brought this call to my attention a few weeks ago.

Josh:

where did you first hear about it and what caught your interest?

Lindsay:

I think it was something where I went on Wikipedia, I think.

Lindsay:

Just randomly.

Lindsay:

Was looking up cults.

Lindsay:

I don't know why

Lindsay:

that's Just kind of the weird kind of stuff I do.

Lindsay:

And

Josh:

free time.

Lindsay:

just in my free time, I'm just like, what's some random, weird Colts I can look at today.

Lindsay:

So I Googled that and this one came up and I was like, oh my God, this one has it all.

Lindsay:

It's like Nazis, Chile, Colts.

Josh:

Child

Josh:

abuse, everything, everything you need.

Lindsay:

got all the heavy hitters.

Lindsay:

So I was like, I need.

Lindsay:

to let Josh know

Lindsay:

about this.

Josh:

Yeah.

Josh:

Well, and I appreciate you bringing it to my attention, cause it definitely is a very.

Josh:

Very weird call for sure.

Josh:

And I think it's w it's pretty well known.

Josh:

I had heard a lot of Nazis had gone to south America and built communities down there.

Josh:

I didn't know to what degree and this definitely opened my eyes to it.

Lindsay:

Oh, yes.

Lindsay:

Quite a few of them.

Lindsay:

I actually have a distant relative who also did the same thing.

Lindsay:

So, unfortunately,

Josh:

Oh, interesting.

Josh:

I might have to ask you about that story

Josh:

after

Josh:

afterwards.

Lindsay:

you totally can.

Lindsay:

Yes.

Josh:

Well, all right, well, without further ado, let us jump into.

Josh:

The colonial, uh, Digna tad Paul Shaffer was born on December 4th, 1921 in the town of trust Dorf in Germany, as a child who suffered from an accident that left him blind and he was forced to make due with a glass right eye,

Lindsay:

I just want to know what kind of

Lindsay:

accidentally did he fall on his head?

Lindsay:

was.

Lindsay:

he hit in the back of the head by a bat?

Josh:

bad.

Josh:

Yeah.

Josh:

Yeah.

Josh:

He was playing baseball and just took a, took a baseball to the eye or something like that.

Josh:

during world war II, he served under the Nazi regime as a medic and an office.

Josh:

With the , uh, uh, or German air force, Lou twofer.

Josh:

Thank you.

Lindsay:

I don't, I don't know why I would have that knowledge.

Josh:

Yes.

Josh:

You seem to know a lot about them.

Lindsay:

I swear, I'm not a

Lindsay:

Nazi.

Josh:

Okay.

Josh:

Okay.

Josh:

All right.

Josh:

when Jeremy, you felt the allied powers Shaffer decided to hide his Nazi ties and reinvented himself as an evangelical preacher.

Josh:

In particular, he was a fan of the American preacher William M Branham, who was also said to have a huge influence on Jim Jones, the leader of the infamous people's temple cult.

Josh:

So good tie into our first step.

Lindsay:

Done done.

Lindsay:

Done.

Lindsay:

Yep.

Josh:

as an evangelical preacher, Shaffer promoted brown hums teaching in west Germany and garnered a sizeable following of impoverished or widows and their children.

Josh:

Many of whom were refugees from east Prussia, which was occupied by the Soviet union.

Josh:

He also found work as a youth leader in several church institutions and Lindsay, what is the stigma around men who work with youth in the church?

Lindsay:

They tend to touch them and that's not

Lindsay:

good

Josh:

Yeah.

Josh:

That's right on the money.

Josh:

Uh,

Lindsay:

and not in the fun

Lindsay:

way.

Josh:

No, no, not isn't like picking them up and throwing them or what I dunno of

Josh:

how you

Josh:

play with

Josh:

kids.

Josh:

I have no idea.

Lindsay:

Hitting them in the back

Lindsay:

of the head with a baseball bat, you know, the usual

Lindsay:

stuff.

Josh:

usual tomfoolery.

Josh:

but, yeah, Schaefer's tomfoolery was definitely illegal and, he was fired from all of the churches he worked at due to allegations that he was molesting underage boys.

Josh:

And then he decided to try to open up his own orphanage, however, and luckily this venture failed when he was once again, accused of sexually abusing

Josh:

minors.

Josh:

So he seems like a great, great guy so

Josh:

far,

Lindsay:

He's just an entrepreneur.

Lindsay:

He's just trying to do his

Lindsay:

thing.

Josh:

just, just, doing his darndest out

Josh:

there in the

Josh:

room.

Josh:

You know,

Lindsay:

One touch at a time.

Josh:

God.

Josh:

No, to avoid being arrested by authorities Shaffer company by a few of his followers fled west Germany in 1961 and sought refuge in the middle east there, he was introduced to a , prominent Chilean ambassador who invited him to live in Chile.

Josh:

At the time Chile was under president George Alexandria, whose administration granted Shaffer a farm located a few kilometers outside the city of peril and Chili's linear province, linear trees.

Josh:

Province.

Josh:

Sure.

Lindsay:

We'll go

Lindsay:

with it.

, Josh:

with the government's help, he bought a 4,400 acre ranch located at the foothills of the Andi mountains and established a religious commune called Colinette Digna, tad, which translates to dignity, Colin.

, Josh:

And we will soon see that it was anything but dignity.

Lindsay:

It sounds sounds like it's going to be on the up and up.

Josh:

yes, that's one way to put it, founded on William

Josh:

, Lindsay: Okay.

Josh:

teaching Colonia dignity, as opposed to principles like anti-communism and strict adherence to the Bible.

Josh:

Given Shaffer's past, as a member of the Hitler youth and an officer of the law, oh God.

Josh:

Left war.

Josh:

Left while you got this one again.

Josh:

Thank you.

Josh:

I'll ask for your help every time on that one.

Josh:

Right.

Josh:

his religious commune was also heavily influenced by Nazi-ism of course, Colonia Digna, tad began with yeah.

Josh:

Surprised the Nazi as Nazi influences.

Josh:

Colonia Digna.

Josh:

Tad began with 10 of Shaffer's original followers.

Josh:

But as the years passed its members swelled.

Josh:

This was field by waves of immigrants from Germany who were enticed by the communes way of living, which involves sustainable agriculture practices and numerous charity works for the local population.

Josh:

However, what they found upon arriving in Chile was something else entirely.

Lindsay:

It always starts with the best of intentions.

Lindsay:

It's like, oh, look at this.

Lindsay:

Such good farmers.

Lindsay:

We give back to the locals.

Lindsay:

We're all

Josh:

I would say,

Lindsay:

happy people,

Josh:

I would say most usually do this one.

Josh:

He was like, I touched kids and now I need to escape Germany.

Lindsay:

but also Nazi-ism

Josh:

Yes.

Josh:

I also want to expose the Bible and Nazi-ism to things that definitely go hand in

Josh:

hand.

Lindsay:

okay.

Lindsay:

Exactly.

Josh:

we are now going to dive into a bit of the life in, in the cult itself.

Josh:

so among the immigrants who came to the Colonia Digna, tad hoping for a better life was Helmut, chef Rick and his wife.

Josh:

Who sold their house in Northern Germany and flew to Chile with their entire life savings.

Josh:

Shaffer asked them to hand over all their money, which was the equivalent to 22,500 in terms of today's

Josh:

dollars, which isn't a crazy amount, but I guess war torn Germany is like, you're not saving a lot.

Lindsay:

No.

Lindsay:

So yeah, they must've been saving that for a long time before then.

Lindsay:

Cause

Lindsay:

that's, that's crazy.

Josh:

the couple was told that their stay was only temporary and that they were free to leave at any time.

Josh:

They want it, according to their son, horse, though, quote, they were tricked.

Josh:

They thought they would build a place where they would do good works and live like good Christians.

Josh:

They found nothing but slavery and suffering and quote, so very dark,

Lindsay:

That's also such a cliche.

Lindsay:

You can leave anytime you

Lindsay:

want.

Josh:

yeah.

Josh:

We took all

Lindsay:

After giving me all your money

Josh:

Yeah.

Josh:

But you're free to go whenever.

Josh:

Yeah.

Josh:

Classic.

Josh:

Like the other members of colonial Digna, tad and helmet, and Emmy were forced to endure 16 hour long workdays in brutal conditions, pausing for only a few minutes to eat lunch there.

Josh:

Exhaustion was ignored by Shaffer who reached our bit east Gorton's Dan or work is divine service to instill in them the belief that their labor was for a higher cause.

Josh:

Uh, so work will set you free, I think is just, it's just a rebranded.

Lindsay:

Yeah, pretty much.

Lindsay:

Yeah, this is, this is my take my

Lindsay:

twist.

Josh:

I'm new Hitler.

Josh:

It's like new Coke, but

Lindsay:

Yeah.

Lindsay:

Isn't that copyright.

Lindsay:

If I change it around a little bit.

Josh:

however, this backbreaking work resulted in tons of crops, which allowed the commune to flourish.

Josh:

It's members who were referred to as colonists managed to construct mills craft shops, henhouses stables and a kitchen.

Josh:

There was even a hospital that had been established with the help of the subsidies.

Josh:

Granted by president Alessandra and his administration.

Josh:

A two story building was 65 beds, a maternity ward and sterile operating rooms.

Josh:

The colony colony, a dignity hospital was a modern Marvel known for its excellent quality of care.

Josh:

It's patients consisted mostly of locals who are taken there by buses hired by the colonists

Lindsay:

I just think it's fascinating that like the hospital would be so nice For some reason, that just sounds really, really creepy to me.

Lindsay:

I don't know why, but

Josh:

It's a kind of a kick in the butt as an American, a you're like even they get free healthcare they're slaves

Lindsay:

oh my God, they get free health care.

Josh:

and,

Lindsay:

over here with a stump.

Lindsay:

I have to wait for five days to get sewn up.

Josh:

Jesus, particular, the house, the maternity ward was popular among the surrounding villages, mainly because of its policy of supplying mothers with four and a half pounds of powdered milk every month

Josh:

now I actually learned recently in an episode of behind the bastards, I'm not sure if anyone listens to it.

Josh:

but Nestle used to do this practice where they would give.

Josh:

young mothers, milk for free, but just to get them hooked on it so that they would keep using it.

Josh:

and then these poor villages didn't have the proper, like sanitary ways to make healthy, powdered milk.

Josh:

And so their children would get very sick and caused millions of children to die around the world.

Josh:

So I'm not sure what, what this is, but,

Lindsay:

Oh, my God.

Josh:

be part of it.

Josh:

go, go listen to behind the

Josh:

bastards, Nestle episode.

Josh:

It's it's good.

Josh:

It's it talks about all of that.

Lindsay:

She is as

Lindsay:

well.

Lindsay:

We thought the whole Flint, Michigan crisis was bad.

Lindsay:

Fuck

Josh:

well that is bad,

Josh:

but it's a different kind of bad.

Lindsay:

Yeah.

Josh:

Colonia Digna.

Josh:

Tad may have seen like a paradise for those who didn't live in it, but for its colonies, it was nothing but living hell besides forced labor and working them to exhaustion.

Josh:

Shaffer also used a complex system of social controls to ensure, their total obedience.

Josh:

For instance, he encouraged the colonists to think of themselves as an extended family.

Josh:

One whose relationship was based, not on blood, but rather on their devotion to him.

Josh:

Each member was required to , call Shaffer the permanent.

Josh:

Which was a name he chosen for himself and I'll give him props because it is better than most of the names I've heard from these call it leaders.

Josh:

It's usually like, just like an offset of God or Jesus or the father.

Josh:

Like he went uncle.

Josh:

I, I appreciate

Josh:

that.

Lindsay:

the permanent uncle that just sounds even creepier.

Josh:

That's true.

Josh:

Yeah, because there's

Josh:

the whole stigma of

Lindsay:

call it, just call him molester, Laster.

Lindsay:

Like let's just call him that.

Josh:

Exactly.

Josh:

according to the American scholar, quote Shaffer offered his flock to possibilities of pure existence in the service of God.

Josh:

All that was required was the regular confession of sin.

Josh:

His followers proved eager to unload their guilt and their confessions personally received by Schaefer and a practice.

Josh:

He called Sila Sorge or care of the soul became the vehicle for their salvation end quote.

Josh:

So the seal of the surge took place on each day was Shaffer, summoning the colonies in small groups to discuss their sins.

Josh:

He made the practice seem like their only chance at salvation.

Josh:

However, it actually served to put them under his thumb even more.

Josh:

by telling him their deepest, darkest secrets, the members of the Colonia, Digna, tad gave their leader more control of their lives.

Josh:

And a lot of cults do this, where they have the opens a group decent suffocation where you confess your stuff, and then everybody knows about it.

Josh:

So then they can use it to manipulate you more so straight from the playbook of Jim Jones or any of those other ones.

Lindsay:

Yeah.

Lindsay:

he's such a, what are you such a great uncle.

Lindsay:

Great uncle wouldn't do that.

Josh:

he wouldn't, he

Josh:

wouldn't molest children.

Lindsay:

Not uncle Lester.

Josh:

um, Like most other cults colonized, Dignitas had destroyed familial relationships to ensure that each member with loyal only to Shafer, for instance, couples were required to live apart.

Josh:

And any baby born in the communion spent the first few years living with nurses hospital,

Lindsay:

That's so

Lindsay:

messed up.

Josh:

oh yeah, it's definitely messed up.

Josh:

To divide families, even more Shaffer classified the colonies into , several different levels.

Josh:

The babies referred to the newborns and toddlers still living in the hospital.

Josh:

Well, children aged six to 14 were called the wedges, which is, I don't know.

Josh:

I find that funny.

Josh:

It's just hilarious.

Lindsay:

It just makes me think of those like seventies style, wedge shoes.

Josh:

Oh, I wasn't even thinking.

Josh:

I was just thinking like potato wedges,

Lindsay:

Oh,

Lindsay:

I like yours better,

Josh:

It

Lindsay:

but bunch potato wedges.

Josh:

just snacking though.

Josh:

All they are is snack, which is

Josh:

dark.

Lindsay:

Oh God.

Lindsay:

Leave the wedges alone.

Lindsay:

Back off the wedges, uncle Lester.

Josh:

upon reaching the age of 16, they graduated in the army of salvation where they would stay until their mid thirties.

Josh:

They would then be included in a group called the elder servants remaining there until their fifties upon which they were invited to join, the coma lows.

Josh:

These levels were reserved for male members.

Josh:

Although females also progressed through similar tiers called the dragons, the field mice, the women's group and the

Josh:

grantees,

Josh:

which up until the granny is, is like, those are good names.

Lindsay:

What were the dragons?

Lindsay:

Were they the wedges?

Josh:

those must have been the wedges.

Lindsay:

think those?

Lindsay:

Cause I could see the field mice being the people that are in the serving in some sort of military capacity, like maybe like the nurses

Lindsay:

or something.

Josh:

Hmm, that makes sense.

Lindsay:

So was it an

Lindsay:

actual

Lindsay:

army?

Josh:

Well, they had

Josh:

liked, we talked about that a little bit more, but they do have like armed people in the commun.

Josh:

We'll talk about it a little

Josh:

bit

Josh:

in

Josh:

the future.

Lindsay:

Okay, sorry.

Lindsay:

I'm skipping

Lindsay:

ahead.

Lindsay:

I'm

Josh:

that's that's okay.

Josh:

That's okay.

Lindsay:

one more thing.

Lindsay:

So, I love how they're called elder servants when they're in their mid thirties.

Lindsay:

Like, is that when you get your ARP card,

Lindsay:

you're now an elder servant.

Josh:

As a 27 year old, that's not looking great for me.

Josh:

I'm going to be elderly.

Josh:

So

Josh:

Jesus.

Lindsay:

I would be considered an elder servant right now.

Lindsay:

So.

Josh:

Oh, you're almost in the colos.

Josh:

You're

Josh:

killing it.

Lindsay:

Oh, yeah.

Lindsay:

I have one foot in the comma, Los.

Josh:

it's your bad foot.

Lindsay:

It's the one that's arthritic.

Lindsay:

it's,

Josh:

it's it's closest to being there.

Josh:

besides removing familial ties, Schaefer also exerted control upon the colonies by stripping them of their individuality.

Josh:

The only personal possessions allowed to them where they're pajamas, a set of work clothes instead of leisure clothes and a week supply of under.

Josh:

Everything else.

Josh:

They supposedly owned, including their shoes was locked in a closet, which they couldn't freely access.

Josh:

so that's not nice.

Lindsay:

I love how they have to specify that they have a week's worth of underwear.

Josh:

I mean, that's pretty good.

Josh:

I don't know if I have seven days worth of that.

Josh:

I have to do laundry

Lindsay:

Yeah.

Josh:

six days.

Lindsay:

And I'm also like leisure clothes.

Lindsay:

I immediately, when I hear leisure clothes go to like heaven's gate where they're wearing like the tracksuits and that's like their leisure clothes.

Josh:

yeah, the, the basketball team or whatever it was.

Josh:

I also, I don't know when they had leisure because they were working 16 hour days.

Josh:

Like, I can't imagine there's much leisure

Josh:

time.

Lindsay:

Exactly.

Josh:

Yeah.

Lindsay:

picturing it, like hanging on a hook in their room as like, like mocking them, like, oh, here's your leisure clothes.

Lindsay:

And you can never

Lindsay:

wear them.

Josh:

Yeah.

Josh:

You can wear them for five minutes before you get into your pajamas before every day.

Josh:

Uh, despite these hardships, the majority of the colonists were totally devoted to Schaefer who was said to be a gifted and charismatic orator.

Josh:

They followed his every whim, even when he forbade them from engaging in private conversations with each other and from leaving the communes property, anyone caught violating these rules was humiliated and severely.

Josh:

Well, colonial Digna, tad consisted of both males and females.

Josh:

Women were largely treated as second class citizens whose sexuality could drive men wild and force them to straight from God because of this.

Josh:

They were required to roll up their hair into tight buns and wear baggy dresses that hide their bodies.

Josh:

you know, basically what

Josh:

Texas is right now.

Lindsay:

Yeah, no shit.

Lindsay:

Yeah.

Lindsay:

Let's just, just saran wrap it all up.

Lindsay:

So you just look like a board

Josh:

Yeah, we

Josh:

can't control ourselves.

Josh:

So

Josh:

we'll control you.

Lindsay:

Yeah.

Lindsay:

It's your fault.

Lindsay:

It's your fault that my penis gets hard.

Lindsay:

You need to hide that.

Lindsay:

Hide your shame.

Lindsay:

Make yourself look as unattractive as possible.

Josh:

Yeah, exactly.

Josh:

so that I feel better about myself.

Josh:

My, definitely not insecure masculinity,

Lindsay:

Hmm.

Lindsay:

Help me

Lindsay:

not want you.

Josh:

help me help, not want you that's my slogan to run this boat for me.

Josh:

Uncle Lester.

Lindsay:

Hope you.

Lindsay:

like

Lindsay:

bags?

Lindsay:

Cause you're going to dress

Lindsay:

like one.

Josh:

Uh, God, for Shaffer making the women appear as unattractive as possible was the best way to ensure that the colonists would engage in sexual intercourse, which he considered the devil's tool.

Josh:

This was also the reason for the backbreaking work that they were made to do by exhausting them in the workshops or the fields Shaffer hoped that their libidos would become so frustrated that it would kill their desire to have sex.

Josh:

So, clearly they had kids.

Josh:

So I don't think that backfired.

Lindsay:

Oh, God.

Lindsay:

Oh, that is hysterical.

Lindsay:

But if you think about it, like

Lindsay:

if makes them so unattractive, it makes it, so you can't tell that they have breasts and they're like severe features is that he making them look like his ideal, like target audience, if you will.

Josh:

Children.

Lindsay:

like

Lindsay:

children?

Josh:

Oh God.

Lindsay:

they might not find you attractive, but I

Lindsay:

think you're beautiful.

Josh:

I love you the way you are and your bag closed.

Lindsay:

Your

Lindsay:

bun is fetching today.

Josh:

I just, I want, I don't want to be able to tell whether you're a man or a woman and then we'll go

Josh:

from

Josh:

there.

Lindsay:

You're just an amorphous blob at this point.

Lindsay:

And that's how I

Lindsay:

want it.

Josh:

Uh, despite these measures, some colonies still managed to fall in love and develop romantic relationships with each other.

Josh:

However, they were still subjected to Schaefer as well.

Josh:

there were times which you've learned couples to marry and have children, but more than often not he forbade them from doing so.

Josh:

According to the American scholar quote, when a man asked Shaffer for the permission to marry, he entered it into a game of sexual rules.

Josh:

Shaffer might grant them a request, but then required that he'd be the one to select the bride.

Josh:

This seldom worked in the man's favor for the women's Shaffer chose were almost always well beyond childbearing years.

Josh:

And,

Lindsay:

I just picture him pulling a curtain.

Lindsay:

It's all the grantees.

Lindsay:

It's like you get number five.

Lindsay:

This is Mildred.

Lindsay:

She's been wearing a bag for 30

Lindsay:

years.

Josh:

She remembers world war one.

Josh:

Oh God.

Josh:

The colonists may have been forced to endure these strange and , humiliating conditions, but many of them chose to willingly remain in Colonia, Digna, tad, perceiving it as a utopia.

Josh:

It made a world overcome by war famine, death in common.

Josh:

Yeah.

Josh:

They were particularly fearful of the latter, mainly because of the horrific stories they had heard.

Josh:

But what Soviet soldiers did to civilians during the final days of world war two, when they swept through Eastern Germany to reach Berlin, which is hilarious to me because it's like you were Germans, Nazis.

Josh:

Most of you do not understand what you did.

Josh:

you did.

Josh:

worse.

Josh:

I think in many

Lindsay:

Exactly.

Lindsay:

I'm pretty sure they took a page out of your playbook.

Josh:

Yeah.

Lindsay:

the other way

Lindsay:

around.

Josh:

I think they were bad.

Josh:

Both of them were bad, but I don't know why they were, I guess they weren't on the bad end of the German side.

Josh:

So they didn't really see that probably.

Josh:

Or while they, I don't know.

Josh:

I have no idea.

Josh:

It's dumb.

Josh:

It's a dumb fear and they're dumb people.

Josh:

I'll say it.

Lindsay:

It's all done, but it is a bunch of dummies.

Josh:

Yeah, uh, full of communist takeover of the world, Shaffer and his followers established a parliamentary unit to defend Colonia, Digna, tad.

Josh:

the men who were chosen to be part of it were trained in military tactics and martial arts.

Josh:

They referred to Schaefer as a general and were required to carry a sidearm at all times.

Josh:

So here's your army Lindsey.

Lindsay:

Did they call him uncle general or just

Lindsay:

general

Josh:

general

Josh:

uncle permanent, Lester general actually it's a

Lindsay:

Lester general.

Josh:

Since, since the commune had no enemies, though, this parliamentary unit was used instead to punish sinners, starving and beating them as well as studying them with rabid dogs.

Josh:

They did this to the members that Shaffer didn't like whom they, and the rest of the colonists was referred to as the rebels.

Josh:

one of these rebels was a Chilean man named Fronz BARR was 10 when he was adopted by a German guy.

Josh:

For no reason at all, Shaffer singled him out as a troublemaker and as members of the parliamentary unit beat him with electrical cables, which resulted in his skull, breaking and him losing consciousness, afterwards.

Josh:

Yeah.

Josh:

Yeah.

Josh:

Not even, we're not even done yet.

Josh:

Afterwards.

Josh:

BARR was taken to Colonia dignity, hospital and imprisoned in an upstairs section where he remained for 31 years, 31 years.

Lindsay:

So he was,

Lindsay:

Oh my God.

Josh:

at the hospital bar and others who are also identified as rebels were forcibly medicate.

Josh:

Which made their movements clumsy and slow because of this, they sustained horrific injuries during their work hours, since they were required to handle heavy machinery, they were subjugated to shock treatment as well with a female physician increasing the voltage.

Josh:

Every time they answered a question incorrectly.

Lindsay:

That's a lot.

Lindsay:

But also I'm impressed.

Lindsay:

They had female physicians

Josh:

You're

Josh:

like, but you know, progress.

Lindsay:

where I'm just like, wow, have you so forward thinking uncle Laster.

Josh:

Yeah.

Lindsay:

But yeah, that's awful.

Josh:

yeah, yeah, not, it's not a good thing, but, uh, one of the rebels, a man named Wolfgang Mueller repeatedly tried to escape from Colonia dignity had his first two attempts ended in failure and he was brought back to the commune by a parliamentary unit who be enforceable.

Josh:

He sedated.

Josh:

Mueller managed to successfully escape in 1966, making it to Chili's Capitol of Santiago, where he was taken to a safe house owned by a German embassy.

Josh:

when shaver heard about this, he sent 15 columnists to storm the place to recapture Mueller.

Josh:

However, they were outnumbered by police officers and were forced to return to the commune empty hands.

Josh:

Soon afterwards, Mueller was taken back to Germany where he went public with what was happening in Colonia, Digna, tad.

Josh:

Unfortunately for him, the authorities ignored his accusations.

Josh:

but Lindsay, do you know who won't.

Josh:

Capture it sedate you and force you to be a slave for

Josh:

years?

Lindsay:

Someone who's not uncle

Lindsay:

Esther.

Josh:

Yeah.

Josh:

Uh, I mean probably a lot of people, but especially the, the products and services that support this podcast, they will definitely not do that.

Josh:

I can almost guarantee it.

Lindsay:

Fingers crossed.

Josh:

And we are back.

Josh:

See that wasn't so bad.

Josh:

That was better than 31 years in prison and a medical facility.

Josh:

Wasn't it?

Lindsay:

my head

Lindsay:

doesn't

Lindsay:

hurt.

Josh:

Yeah.

Josh:

True.

Josh:

You don't have a fractured

Josh:

skull.

Lindsay:

I don't have a fractured skull.

Lindsay:

I haven't had a bunch of voltage sent through my body.

Lindsay:

So I'm feeling

Lindsay:

pretty good.

Josh:

Which . I would rather that it's a Friday night put some bolts through me.

Josh:

Come on.

Lindsay:

I'm learning so much about

Lindsay:

you.

Josh:

So it was my audience.

Josh:

Um, given Schaefer's pass Colonia, Digna, tad was used as a refuge, by former Nazis who were being hunted down by international governments and organizations.

Josh:

This wasn't the worst thing that the commune was involved in though on September 11th, 1973, never forget.

Josh:

Chile was seized by Augusto Pinochet, who led a right-wing militia.

Josh:

Giunta in a bloody coup against the socialist government of then president Salvador, Aladin.

Josh:

I mean it, his opponents Pinochet established the national intelligence directory or Dina, which was a secret police force responsible for identifying enemies of the history team.

Josh:

Those arrested were taken to torture and execution centers located across chili.

Josh:

One of them, which was Colonia, Digna, tad.

Josh:

So he teamed up with the fascist leader, which makes

Josh:

sense.

Lindsay:

Wow

Lindsay:

record scratch.

Josh:

Who would have guessed it?

Lindsay:

Not me

Josh:

many of the prisoners never came out of the commune.

Josh:

later a former Dina officer named Michael Townley, alleged that Colonia Digna tad had also been equipped with a secret laboratory where government scientists worked day and night to develop chemical weapons among the people in prison in Colonia, Digna, tad.

Josh:

Louis pebbles who commanded a secret anti Pinochet, militia.

Josh:

Unfortunately, he was arrested by Dina in February, 1975 and taken to the religious commune where he was subjected to shock therapy that lasted for six hours or more.

Josh:

Uh,

Lindsay:

Jesus

Josh:

that's my kind of Friday night, when, not being tortured, he was kept in a dirty cell blindfolded, strapped to a metal grade and denied both food and water.

Josh:

So classic torture.

Lindsay:

Sounds like a delightful

Lindsay:

BNB.

Josh:

Yeah.

Josh:

You know, he was at least fed.

Josh:

Oh no, he wasn't.

Josh:

Nevermind.

Josh:

I take that back.

Josh:

I immediately just read that and forgot about it.

Josh:

um,

Lindsay:

JK.

Josh:

get, take that back, colonial.

Josh:

Dignity ties to Pinochet remained a secret for years.

Josh:

That is until 1977.

Josh:

When amnesty international published a 60 page report titled Colonia dignity had a German community in Chile, a torture camp for the Dina.

Josh:

It consisted of witness accounts from tortured survivors, including pebbles who fled to Europe after his release from the commune.

Josh:

unfortunately Shaffer's , lawyers filed liable charges against amnesty international, which prevented the human rights organization from distributing its reports until 1997.

Josh:

So almost 20 years later.

Lindsay:

God.

Lindsay:

Cheers.

Josh:

The loss sucks.

Josh:

that's my stats.

Lindsay:

That's a hard stance.

Josh:

screw the law.

Josh:

I am the law.

Josh:

Oh no, I'm turning Dunkel.

Josh:

Leicester.

Josh:

however, this legal battle didn't stop pebbles and other torture survivors from speaking out against Colonia Digna, tad.

Josh:

It didn't take long before documentary filmmakers and reporters started paying attention to them in March, 1990, the Pinochet regime collapsed and was replaced by a government headed by the former Senator.

Josh:

Petrie show L Alwin, a Lewin alien who was one of Shaffer's most outspoken critics.

Josh:

Not only did he initiate a financial audit of the commune, but he also removed the state funding for its hospital and revoked its status as nonprofit charitable organization, infuriated, the colonias stage protests and hunger strikes.

Josh:

But these amounted to now.

Lindsay:

Yeah.

Josh:

okay.

Josh:

Starve yourself.

Josh:

That

Lindsay:

Okay.

Josh:

a lot of my problems.

Lindsay:

Exactly.

Josh:

when allegations, the surface that Shaffer was sexually abusing children, the authorities conducted several raids on Colonia, Digna, tad, hoping to catch him however they never managed to do.

Josh:

So, which led to speculations that he had left the commune.

Josh:

Shaffer did abandoned Colonia dignitaries sometime in the 1990s, although the colonists continue to live by the rules that he had introduced and strictly enforced, they did begin to cooperate with authorities though.

Josh:

And in July, 2005, Shaffer stockpile of weapons was unearthed It included 92 machine guns, 176 kilograms of TNT, and more than a thousand hand-grenades among other things.

Josh:

All of these were illegal.

Lindsay:

Oh,

Josh:

Uh, I love that.

Josh:

it's like a normal amount of guns and like, just so many hand guns.

Josh:

It's like, why

Josh:

so many handlers it's.

Lindsay:

no, that's what I was thinking too.

Lindsay:

I was like, that's less machine guns than I was anticipating, but then it's.

Lindsay:

like, but there's more than a thousand hand

Lindsay:

grenades

Josh:

Yeah, we have more hanger names than we have bullets

Lindsay:

or people.

Lindsay:

for that matter.

Josh:

or people.

Josh:

Yeah, exactly.

Josh:

Uh, God, a few months before this discovery though, on March 10th, 2005, Shaffer was found hiding in an , exclusive gated community called Los

Lindsay:

Okay.

Josh:

Yeah, we'll go I don't care enough to try and pronounce it, which was located just outside the bonus areas, Argentina.

Josh:

He was swiftly extradited back to Chile and charged with being involved in the disappearance of one.

Josh:

may know a prominent political activist who had vanished without a trace in 1976.

Josh:

The discovery of his illegal stash of weapons, seal the deal and the following year on May 24th, 2006, Shaffer was sentenced to 20 years in prison for sexually abusing a total of 25 children.

Josh:

He was also ordered to pay the equivalent of $1.5 million to minors who had filed lawsuits against him.

Lindsay:

Good.

Lindsay:

That's a lot of

Lindsay:

money.

Josh:

They deserved it.

Josh:

Those kids, not him.

Josh:

Well, he deserved it too.

Josh:

I

Josh:

guess,

Lindsay:

Yeah.

Josh:

losing the money.

Josh:

I'm now confused as what I'm saying, the kids deserve the money.

Josh:

He did not deserve That's what I'll that with.

Lindsay:

And he deserved to go to prison and pay

Lindsay:

the money.

Josh:

yes, he deserved all of that and more probably.

Josh:

Overall Shaffer was convicted of 20 counts of dishonest abuse and five counts of child rape.

Josh:

All of which he committed between 1993 and 97.

Josh:

However, he was never punished for the tortures that he inflicted on the members of Colonia dignity.

Josh:

On April 24th, 2010, 88 year old, Paul Shaffer died of heart failure at the San Diego Chili's X penitentiaries hospital.

Josh:

Nine years later in 2019, it was reported that the people he victimized as leader of Colonia Digna, tad would receive a compensation of up to $11,000 from the German government.

Josh:

which seems low,

Josh:

seems low to me since

Josh:

two of them paid 20.

Josh:

$22,000.

Josh:

So they just got their money back with no interest,

Josh:

50 years later or whatever it was.

Lindsay:

Exactly.

Lindsay:

Oh,

Lindsay:

you know what?

Lindsay:

They probably weren't still alive.

Josh:

You're right.

Josh:

Actually, now that I

Lindsay:

when

Lindsay:

got

Josh:

Yeah.

Josh:

They're probably

Josh:

dead.

Josh:

a good point.

Lindsay:

have been dead.

Josh:

but their child, uh, whatever his name, Horace, he

Josh:

might be

Josh:

alive still.

Josh:

gets his

Lindsay:

oh yeah.

Lindsay:

He probably could have gotten it.

Josh:

Yeah.

Josh:

Yeah.

Josh:

to distance themselves from Shaffer's ties to Nazi-ism and the Pinochet government, the remaining members of the Colonia Digna tad changed the communes name to Billa Bavaria in 1991.

Josh:

It has since become one of the top tourist destinations.

Josh:

With the German themed restaurant and hotel, hundreds of former colonies still live there claiming that as it is the only home that they've ever known throughout the years, many investigation committees have been

Josh:

Many questions about the call has remained unanswered.

Josh:

And that is the story of Colonia

Josh:

Digna, tad, the Nazi Colts.

Lindsay:

That's so messed

Lindsay:

up.

Josh:

it is very messed

Lindsay:

And the fact that they're just like,

Lindsay:

Hey, now we're just a cute little cutesy place in Chile that you can come visit

Lindsay:

our themed restaurant and hotel.

Josh:

I'll be fair to these, the people there now, they were probably the ones being abused, so they.

Josh:

Uh, probably just stayed there and then they don't really know much else.

Josh:

Right.

Josh:

They don't, they didn't learn any practical skills that could help them in the real world.

Josh:

So, they just stayed

Josh:

and

Lindsay:

suppose Yeah.

Josh:

but

Lindsay:

of them were

Lindsay:

born there.

Josh:

Yeah.

Josh:

Well, a lot of them were born there and then tortured there.

Josh:

So good, good memories.

Josh:

They can't leave that place, for sure.

Lindsay:

So many good memories.

Lindsay:

Remember that

Lindsay:

time what's his face was beaten with A cable.

Josh:

yeah.

Josh:

Oh the,

Lindsay:

that was a good day.

Josh:

yeah.

Josh:

Remember when we were all high and sedated and prison prisoners of the, hospital, that's no longer there.

Josh:

Loved it.

Lindsay:

Yep.

Josh:

now Lindsey, before we end off the show, we do have to do my favorite segment.

Josh:

at the end of each cult, we do cult critique.

Josh:

, so my guests and I take a look at the call we just discussed and we give it a rating at a five stars as if you were writing something on Yelp.

Josh:

we give comments to go with those stars because I realized the stars are kind of arbitrary, so they're whatever you want them to be.

Josh:

so are you ready to, are you ready to rate this cult?

Lindsay:

Well, I gotta say, I think I'm going to give it, I'll give it three stars

Lindsay:

just because there should have been less Nazi-ism.

Lindsay:

Probably less beatings.

Lindsay:

They could have done better with their military.

Lindsay:

If they were a real call, it

Lindsay:

honestly more guns instead of hand

Lindsay:

grenades.

Josh:

Yeah.

Josh:

Yeah.

Josh:

Although I'm debating whether I'm more afraid of the amount of hand grenades they had or if they had more guns, would I be more afraid of which, and I think, I think the hand grenades scare me just because it's so

Josh:

confusing.

Lindsay:

It is, It just reminds me of, what is it anchor, man?

Lindsay:

He's just like, I have a grenade and they're like, where did that come from?

Josh:

Is a brick

Josh:

brick.

Josh:

Has it right.

Josh:

Just holding a grenade.

Lindsay:

Brick has the grenade.

Josh:

Oh God.

Lindsay:

And then you get to try it.

Lindsay:

And I don't know where to

Lindsay:

yeah.

Josh:

Great movie.

Josh:

And he's the most terrifying person in that.

Josh:

I'd be if I

Josh:

was there.

Lindsay:

Oh, my God.

Lindsay:

I'd be so terrified of

Lindsay:

brick.

Josh:

so Lindsay three stars.

Josh:

I think I would have to go with four stars.

Josh:

I think this checks a lot of the boxes of a cult.

Josh:

It has the blind obedience, the compound, the, it's even got a military, which not many courts do.

Josh:

yeah, I think if it wasn't for the child abuse, uh, I'd feel more comfortable giving it more stars, but four stars for being a solid cult all around, minus one star for being garbage people.

Josh:

That's, that's what I'll go with.

Lindsay:

Yeah.

Lindsay:

They are self-sustaining

Lindsay:

cause they, they were farming and stuff and a lot of the best communes are self-sustaining

Josh:

Yeah,

Lindsay:

because then it isolates

Lindsay:

them

Josh:

exactly.

Josh:

And when you're in a country where you don't speak the native language, that makes it even harder to venture from the commune or, and you don't have shoes,

Josh:

so you can't even run away

Lindsay:

That's right.

Josh:

yeah.

Lindsay:

you wouldn't want to run away from

Lindsay:

your lovely

Lindsay:

wife with her lazy eye And her,

Josh:

And her, uh, breasted hip.

Josh:

well I at Lindsay, I appreciate you coming on, talking about Colonia dignity, and I appreciate you bringing this to my attention.

Josh:

and thank you everyone for listening, but Lindsey, if you wouldn't mind, please let my listeners know where they can find your podcast.

Lindsay:

Sure I'd be happy to.

Lindsay:

You can find us online at, yield crime podcast.com.

Lindsay:

We're on Twitter at ELL crime pod and on Instagram at yield crime podcast where I'm pretty much all of the podcast players out there.

Lindsay:

probably wherever you listen to.

Lindsay:

this podcast, you can find us as well.

Josh:

That's probably true.

Josh:

Yeah.

Josh:

And we're constantly battling for the top spot good pods.

Josh:

uh, Uh, thank you, Fred for listening and thank you, Lindsay, for coming on.

Josh:

, definitely go listen to your crime.

Josh:

It's they have great stories there.

Josh:

and it is probably one of the most fun podcasts names to say, yield crime.

Josh:

You always like, ye hard, it's kind of like a yield and you gotta do.

Josh:

The arm pump when you say it.

Josh:

and that's

Josh:

that's how I feel every time I say it yields cram.

Josh:

so if you just go listen to it for that purpose only, I, I I'll be happy.

Josh:

So, so definitely go check her out.

Josh:

they are great and they have tons of content that you guys can go listen to.

Josh:

If you love my podcast, you will definitely.

Josh:

Lindsay's podcast.

Josh:

So go check out Yule crime and thank you, Lindsay.

Josh:

Again for coming on.

Josh:

We will see everyone next time.

Lindsay Valenty

Podcaster

Lindsay Loves All Things True Crime

Like seriously — it’s a bit of a problem.

Her obsession with all things strange started as a free-range 80’s kid, reading books on aliens, Mothman, and other cryptids at the local library. Of course, being able to see ghosts might have also had something to do with it.

Nowadays her passion for reading (like, a lot of reading - so much reading) and history has become a Venn Diagram with true crime to form this pet project.

When not talking into the void, she spends time with her family, reads (I know, shocker), and overall just the usual things a stressed and coffee obsessed 30-something Mom does.