Colonia Dignidad as Digital History
Colonia Dignidad was a settlement of Germans in Chile. Starting in 1961 as an isolated sect under the leadership of Paul Schäfer, the colony became notorious for crimes against its inhabitants and the during the military dictatorship of General Augusto Pinochet against opponents against the regime.
The transnational history of Colonia Dignidad has linked the Federal Republic of Germany and Chile since the relocation of the sect in 1961. Even after that, Colonia Dignidad residents, often referred to as Colonos, retained German citizenship and maintained close contact with the ethnic German community in Chile and with actors in Germany. Their long existence was made possible by a network of support in both countries. A network of favors, blackmail, and the projection of common interests and ideological convergences secured Colonia Dignidad the support of local officials, government representatives, and actors in Germany.
As part of the project “Colonia Dignidad – A Chilean-German Oral History Archive” 64 life history interviews were conducted with former members of the sect, former political prisoners, relatives of disappeared detainees, Chilean children who suffered sexual violence by Paul Schäfer in the 1990s and other affected and involved persons. The interviews in German or Spanish were transcribed, translated, and scientifically edited. Thus, a multiperspective interview archive was created, which aims to promote scientific research and political education on the topic through an online platform with protected access.
Speaker: Stefan Rinke