Germany and Colonia Dignidad: Colonial Entanglement, Medical Humanitarianism, and Human Rights Abuses in Chile

Abstract: In the early 1960s, a group of West Germans established the religious colony of Colonia Dignidad (the Colony of Dignity) in central Chile. This article chronicles the violence and atrocity that occurred at the Colony during the era of Augusto Pinochet’s military rule. At the same time, it demonstrates how Germany’s longer history of colonial entanglement and the Nazi practices of torturous medicine served as the underpinnings for the human rights violations that occurred. The Colony’s existence was only possible due to the long-standing ties between Germany and Chile. These same connections have rendered the legacy of the Colony intertwined with failures on both sides of the Atlantic to uphold human rights.

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