Chile Colony of the Damned

Bizarre allegations plague a West German settlement

To the impoverished peasants of Chile's rural Seventh Region, the arrival in 1961 of los alemanes (the Germans) seemed at first like a godsend. The 60 or so blond, blue-eyed settlers of Colonia Dignidad (Dignity Colony) quickly set to work constructing what they called an "educational and benefactory society" on the site of an old ranch near Parral, 250 miles south of Santiago. Before long the newcomers had built a model community that offered many of the area's 20,000 residents access to employment, trade, free hospital services, an elementary school and, eventually, even a European-style restaurant on the nearby highway.

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