The Andes Mountains in Chile form the backdrop to what at first glance looks like a charming tourist attraction. But visitors who book a tour of Villa Baviera are told all about former Nazi Paul Schäfer’s reign of terror here in the 1960s.
After the death of this sect leader, more than a hundred of his German followers continued to live in Colonia Dignidad. These now-elderly residents tell their stories – sometimes frankly, sometimes hesitantly – about the physical and sexual abuse that took place. And about the crimes they were forced to commit. Each of them has their own perspective on this dark history. When discussing the electroshocks he received, one former member says: “They all meant well really.”
The landscape that seems so serene at the start of the film mutates into a sinister witness to the past. And the songs that residents innocently sang as children in the colony now trigger in most of them a sense of rage and disgust. Songs of Repression shows how traumatic events can change a human life. The film won the international grand prize at Copenhagen’s CPH:DOX documentary festival, as well as the award for best Danish documentary.