So I’m starting a pretty interesting project at my day job at the Knight Case Studies Initiative at the Columbia Journalism School: a video case study about a Chilean investigative team that smoked out an octogenarian fugitive named Paul Schaefer, a Nazi medic and pedophile. Faced with child molestation charges in Europe after World War II, he escaped to Chile where he set up Colonia Dignidad, a German-speaking commune run by Schaefer and a handful of Gestapo and S.S. alums. It was, essentially, a little boy farm for him. He eventually became a torture subcontractor for the Pinochet regime: problematic people were shipped out to Colonia Dignidad and never seen again. When Pinochet was ousted from power in 1990, Schaeffer lost his protector. As media scrutiny and court challenges from his victims mounted, Schaefer disappeared.
CONTACTO, Chile’s premier investigative television program, spent two years smoking him out in the backwoods of Argentina. They gave the tip-off to Interpol that led to Schaefer’s arrest, in 2005. CONTACTO was nominated for an Emmy for its investigation–they caught the arrest on tape–and I get to go to Chile this month to talk to the protagonists!