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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German man jailed for killing petrol station worker in mask row

A 50-year-old German man was jailed for life Tuesday for shooting dead a petrol station cashier because he was angry about being told to wear a mask while buying beer.

German man jailed for killing petrol station worker in mask row

The September 2021 murder in the western town of Idar-Oberstein shocked Germany, which saw a vocal anti-mask and anti-vaccine movement emerge in response to the government’s coronavirus restrictions.

The row started when 20-year-old student worker Alex W. asked the man to put on a mask inside the shop, as required in all German stores at the time.

After a brief argument, the man left.

The perpetrator – identified only as Mario N. – returned about an hour and a half later, this time wearing a mask. But as he bought his six-pack of beer to the till, he took off his mask and another argument ensued.

He then pulled out a revolver and shot the cashier in the head point-blank.

On Tuesday, the district court in Bad-Kreuznach convicted Mario N. of murder and unlawful possession of a firearm, and handed him a life sentence.

READ ALSO: Shock in Germany after cashier shot dead in Covid mask row

Under German law, people given a life sentence can usually seek parole after 15 years. His defence team had sought a sentence of manslaughter, rather than murder.

At the start of the trial, prosecutor Nicole Frohn told how Mario N. had felt increasingly angry about the measures imposed to curb the pandemic, seeing them as an infringement on his rights.

“Since he knew he couldn’t reach the politicians responsible, he decided to kill him (Alex W.),” she said.

Mario N. turned himself in to police the day after the shooting.

German has relaxed most of its coronavirus rules, although masks are still required in some settings, such as public transport.