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CRIME

Colonia Dignidad founder, Nazi and child abuser Schäfer dies in prison

Paul Schäfer, a former Nazi corporal, founder of a mysterious German enclave in southern Chile, and convicted child sex abuser, died on Saturday in a prison hospital.

Colonia Dignidad founder, Nazi and child abuser Schäfer dies in prison
A file photo of Schäfer. Photo: DPA

Schäfer, 88, a wartime Nazi corporal and medic, was taken to hospital last July with heart problems and was given respiratory assistance.

He was sentenced to 20 years in jail in May 2006 for abusing and torturing children and other settlers at the armed enclave Colonia Dignidad, or Dignity Colony.

The large, self-sufficient German colony in an isolated region south of Santiago was established by Schäfer in 1961 after he fled Germany to escape child abuse charges there.

The 13,000-hectare mountain resort, 350 kilometres south of Santiago, was home to about 300 refugees from Nazi Germany and their descendants. It was equipped with a hospital and an airport, and became a “state-within-a-state.”

But the colony’s leader later fled to Argentina in August 1996 after the families of the abused children filed complaints against him.

The Chilean authorities seized the property in 2005 and the Argentines arrested and deported Schäfer back to Chile.

He was also charged with collaborating in human rights abuses during the regime of former Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet’s 1973-1990, including allowing Chilean military agents to use Dignity Colony to torture political prisoners, many of whom were never found.

The Simon Wiesenthal Centre had suspected Schäfer of having connections with Nazi fugitives such as Walter Rauff, who the centre said escaped to Chile and was protected by Pinochet’s regime. Rauff died in Chile in 1984.

Residents of Dignity Colony lived an austere life until Schäfer’s arrest, and they have now renamed it Bavarian Village and opened it to the tourist trade.

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GERMANY AND ISRAEL

Germany in talks on further payout for 1972 Olympics victims

The German government says it is in talks over further compensation for victims of the attack on the Munich Olympics, as the 50th anniversary of the atrocity approaches.

Germany in talks on further payout for 1972 Olympics victims

Ahead of the commemoration in September, relatives of the Israelis killed have indicated they are unhappy with what Germany is offering.

“Conversations based on trust are taking place with representatives of the victims’ families,” a German interior ministry spokesman told AFP when asked about the negotiations.

He did not specify who would benefit or how much money had been earmarked, saying only that any package would “again” be financed by the federal government, the state of Bavaria and the city of Munich.

On September 5th, 1972, eight gunmen broke into the Israeli team’s flat at the Olympic village, shooting dead two and taking nine Israelis hostage, threatening to kill them unless 232 Palestinian prisoners were released.

West German police responded with a bungled rescue operation in which all nine hostages were killed, along with five of the eight hostage-takers and a police officer.

An armed police officer in a tracksuit secures the block where terrorists  held Israeli hostages at the Olympic Village in Munich on 5th September 1972.

An armed police officer in a tracksuit secures the block where terrorists held Israeli hostages at the Olympic Village in Munich on 5th September 1972. Photo: picture alliance / dpa | Horst Ossingert

The spokeswoman for the victims’ families, Ankie Spitzer, told the German media group RND that the amount currently on the table was “insulting” and threatened a boycott of this year’s commemorations.

She said Berlin was offering a total of €10 million including around €4.5 million already provided in compensation between 1972 and 2002 — an amount she said did not correspond to international standards. 

“We are angry and disappointed,” said Spitzer, the widow of fencing coach Andre Spitzer who was killed in the attack. “We never wanted to talk publicly about money but now we are forced to.”

RND reported that the German and Israeli governments would like to see an accord by August 15th.

The interior ministry spokesman said that beyond compensation, Germany intended to use the anniversary for fresh “historical appraisal, remembrance and recognition”.

He said this would include the formation of a commission of German and Israeli historians to “comprehensively” establish what happened “from the perspective of the year 2022”.

This would lead to “an offer of further acts of acknowledgement of the relatives of the victims of the attack” and the “grave consequences” they suffered.

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