Nazi paedophile Paul Schaefer (pictured) founded the Colonia Dignidad sect in 1961 in Parral, Santiago
Victims of a paedophile sect led by a one-eyed German Nazi who oversaw daily torture and abuse of child slaves over three decades in Chile are hoping to finally see justice with a legal bid.
Colonia Dignidad was a secretive German commune founded in 1961 by convicted paedophile Paul Schaefer and a group of fellow German immigrants in Parral, south of the capital Santiago.
Residents were indoctrinated and kept as virtual slaves over three decades by the sect.
The Nazi paedophile also collaborated with the dictatorship of Augusto Pinochet whose secret police used the colony as a place to torture opponents.
The enclave's history features in a recent movie starring Emma Watson and Daniel Bruehl.
Today it emerged that Germany is declassifying its files on the sect after admitting the diplomatic service's failure to stop the abuses.
Former residents of the commune are bringing a lawsuit against the Chilean state for allowing the camp to operate for years, during which they say numerous victims were abused and enslaved.
A separate case is also being filed against Germany for negligently failing to help its nationals who were abused in the colony, lawyer and plaintiff Winfried Hempel said.
'The handling of Colonia Dignidad was not a glorious chapter of the history of the foreign ministry,' said Germany's Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier.
'Even later, when Colonia Dignidad was dissolved and the people were no longer subjected to the daily torture, the service lacked the determination and transparency to identify its responsibilities and to draw lessons from it,' Steinmeier said.
Colonia Dignidad (pictured) was a secretive German commune founded in 1961 by convicted paedophile Paul Schaefer and a group of fellow German immigrants in Parral, south of the capital Santiago
Although Germany's foreign ministry is not to blame for the 'havoc wrecked by Paul Schaefer... in part along with the (Chilean) military and dictator', it had a duty to provide 'advice and assistance' to German citizens, Steinmeier added.
'It could have sought earlier to use diplomatic pressure to curtail the scope of Colonia's leadership and to push for legal action,' he said, adding that the embassy failed to reach out to residents of the commune.
In a bid to draw lessons from the affair, Steinmeier said diplomats were declassifying files that would have otherwise remained under wraps for another 10 years.
'We are making documents dating from between 1986 and 1996 available to researchers and the media,' he said, adding that older files were already in the public domain.
The scale of the atrocities at the commune came to light only after the end of Pinochet's regime.
Schaefer built a secret underground network of tunnels (right), torture chambers and interrogation rooms where Augusto Pinochet's political enemies were tortured. The site of the settlement is pictured left...
Pictures show the first German settlers in Villa Baviera or Bavaria Village, formerly known as Colonia Dignidad near Parral.Germany is declassifying files relating to the abusive sect...
For decades, the residents of Villa Baviera, initially called Colonia Dignidad, submitted to the authoritarian whims of Schaefer, who banned almost all contact with the outside world at the commune 210 miles south of Santiago.
Under his rules, men and women lived separately, intimate contact was controlled and children were split from their parents.
In 2006, former members of the cult issued a public apology and asked for forgiveness for 40 years of sex and human rights abuses in their community, saying they were brainwashed by Schaefer, who many viewed as God.
Schaefer was born in Troisdorf, Weimar Germany, and joined the Hitler Youth movement at a young age.
He served as a medic in the German Army during World War II, where he reached the rank of corporal.
As an ex-Nazi, he lived in Germany until 1961.
Following the war he set up a children's home and Lutheran evangelical ministry. In 1959, he created the Private Social Mission, purportedly a charitable organisation.
That same year, he was charged with sexually abusing two children and fled Germany with some of his followers.
Schaefer resurfaced in Chile in 1961, where the government at the time, led by conservative President Jorge Alessandri, granted him permission to create the Dignidad Beneficent Society on a farm outside of Parral.
Founded primarily on anti-communism, this society evolved into the Colonia Dignidad community.
Schaefer disappeared on May 20, 1997, fleeing child sex abuse charges, this time filed by Chilean authorities after 26 children who went to the commune's free clinic and school reported abuse.
Former residents of the commune are bringing a lawsuit against the Chilean state for allowing the camp to operate for years, during which they say numerous victims were abused and enslaved. A child is seen cycling past the site in January this year...
He was tried in Chile in his absence, and found guilty in late 2004.
Schaefer was found on March 10, 2005, nearly eight years after his disappearance, hiding in a suburb known as Las Acacias, 30 miles from Buenos Aires, Argentina.
Following two days of negotiations between Chilean and Argentine authorities, Schaefer was sent back to Chile to face a court hearing. There, he was charged with being involved in the 1976 disappearance of the political activist Juan Maino, and he remained in custody until his death.
On May 24, 2006, Schaefer was sentenced to 20 years in jail for sexually abusing 25 children and was ordered to pay £1million to 11 minors whose representatives established suits.
He died aged 89 in a Chilean jail in 2010 while serving his sentence.