SELECTED U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE DECLASSIFIED DOCUMENTS ON BORIS WEISFEILER DISAPPEARANCE IN CHILE
This is the first telegram sent to the Department of State with the information received by the embassy from General of Carabineros regarding discovery of a backpack belonged to Boris Weisfeiler.
Following the report from Carabineros to the US Embassy that a US citizen's, Boris Weisfeiler, backpack found in the area, Conoff (Consular officer) U.S. Consul Ed Arrizabalaga traveled to San Fabian.
On February 11, according to the U.S. Embassy cables and notes, a badly decomposed body without fingerprints but with a physical build similar to Weisfeiler's was conveniently found in the Nuble River and immediately presented as that of Weisfeiler’s to Consul Edward Arrizabalaga, who had just arrived in the area on his scheduled trip. A local man later identified the body as that of his brother, Leopoldo Ponce Alarcon; he was physically similar to Boris, 1.65 meters tall, and about the same age, 45 years old. ”
Memorandum provides information on the boundaries of Colonia Dignidad and is confirming that “at the time of disappearance Weisfeiler was either on or very near to the Colonia property”.
According to the cable, the U.S. Consul investigating the case “was told that Carabineros were frightened by the possibility that a ‘political extremist’ might have crossed Argentine border into Chile undetected.” Information was also received from a source who suspects that Chilean police killed Weisfeiler. Mr. Jones (DCM) stated that the case “has taken a most serious turn” and requested Department of State instructions.
Chilean attorney, Alfredo Etcheberry was hired by the U.S. Embassy to analyze that first Carabinero’s report and additional information, gathered by the U.S. Consuls. In Etcheberry’s opinion, “Carabineros appear to be culpable and in fact it looked to him as if the probably assassin was Srg Jorge Andres Cofre Vega, the former chief of Carabinero station at El Roble.” The memorandum referring to the discussion of legal points of the investigation and also pointed out that Chilean law “permits a foreign Embassy on its own without supporting evidence to request the judiciary to reopen an inquest”
There has given entire text of the Diplomatic Note sent to the Chilean Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Ambassador Barnes repeated his request for Department’s instructions stressing out that “no action will be taken on Weisfeiler case until department’s response received”.
The document is referring to one of the earlier informant, who suggested that Weisfeiler [W.] might have survived for some period after his disappearance. In a memo, Deputy Chief of Mission George F. Jones [GFJ] asked the embassy’s officer Mr. Penn, “If there any way to refresh, revive, update that one contact … that suggested W. was still alive. Amb [ambassador] said the one thing that bothered him about closing the file was that one hint that W. was alive.”
Conversation of attorney Alfredo Etcheberry with Chief of Carabineros and member of the Junta, General Rodolfo Stange. General Stange contemplated an imposter theory, assuming that “real Weisfeiler had never traveled to Chile but instead a Chilean dissident might have entered the country with Weisfeiler’s complicity” and documentation.
The memorandum stated "[The Judge investigating the case] believes there may be another, more sinister explanation for Weisfeiler disappearance." Consul General Jayne Kobliska is also discussing the possibility of legal action regarding the probability that “if Weisfeiler is still alive, petitioning the court could endanger his life”. The memo also stated “real danger in this case is that we will delay action until it is too late to either save Weisfeiler’s life or determine the true circumstances of his death”.
A U.S. Embassy cable on recently received Carabinero's second report noted: “This report constitutes the first time that the Carabineros have directly admitted to the embassy that their personnel searched for Weisfeiler on January 4. All previous communications from them stated that they were first made aware of Weisfeiler presence in the region on January 15, when Weisfeiler’s backpack was discovered.” The cable continued, “In its account of the events of January 4, the Carabineros’ report raises more questions than answers. Attorney Etcheberry found this report most imprecise and unsatisfactory and in fact used the word ‘perfunctory’ to describe it.”
A cable with the text of a dip note filed by the U.S. Embassy on August 27, 1986. In August 1986, the Chilean Ministry of Foreign Affairs sent to the U.S. Embassy its file on a missing U.S. citizen, Boris Weisfeiler. The Carabineros’ accounting of the events changed once again. A U.S. Diplomatic note sent to the Ministry as a reply, requested clarification. “It would appear that there some contradictions in certain elements of the documentation” in regard of a found backpack, documentation, footprints, etc. the note stated, “In the three reports in the file there every time given different names, locations, and dates to account for these circumstances."
The cable is discussing the questions posed by the high Carabinero officials in regard of Boris Weisfeiler identity; here is also raised the question of "the FBI involvement in this case" and stated "the assistant Legatt recognized that this is definitely not a matter for the FBI involvement." An other issue discussed: on May 5, 1985, the only then known civilian witness, Luis Alberto Lopez Benavidez, died under suspicious circumstances, supposedly a suicide. The Carabineros offered a motive: “because his girlfriend left him for another man.” His death took place at the very spot Weisfeiler had been at just before his disappearance—the cable crossing of the river. “He was hanging from one of the cables supporting the cableway,” one document reported. Perhaps to conceal this highly suspicious death of the key witness, local Carabinero officials delayed informing the U.S. Embassy of the “accident” for more than a year, until November 1986
This memorandum, written by Ambassador Harry Barnes more than two years after Boris disappearance, provides information on the first brief discussion of the case with General Stange.
Consul General Kobliska is referring to strange behavior of the Chilean Government regarding Weisfeiler case. She pointed out that “the ‘Mickey Mouseing’ around we’ve done on this case with this government is disgraceful…”
Vice-Consul Phillip L. Antweiler is referring to an "extraordinary" developments in the Weisfeiler case -- that a tape received from a friend [Maximo Pacheco] that is reffering to what really happened to Boris Weisfeiler.
Those notes for the Ambassador and DMC (Deputy Chief of Mission) provides translation of the tape with the first interview of formal member of an Army patrol, who participated in kidnapping and delivery of Boris to Colonia Dignidad, as he said, in January 1985 and now came forward while willing "to save this man life and maybe ‘many lives'." The informant stated that after brutal interrogation for a long period of time Boris was accused of being not a Soviet or a CIA spy as they assumed earlier, but a ‘Jewish spy’.
This hand-drawn map, made by an eyewitness ("Daniel") during the second interview, details the location of Weisfeiler’s capture, and trip to Colonia Dignidad, the site of his detention and possible murder.
As U.S. records show, locals residents were under considerable pressure from the Chilean Carabineros to confirm official story of drowning and to minimize independent contact with consular officers.” On February 4, 1985, Boris Weisfeiler “was declared presumably dead by the Court of San Fabian Chile.” The judge issued a statement that Weisfeiler’s death was “probably result of accidental drowning.” No body has ever been found.
The report is summarizing latest developments in the investigation of Boris Weisfeiler disappearance. Mr. Swigert also stated “there have been rumors for over a year that Weisfeiler is alive and detained in Colonia Dignidad, a German immigrant settlement reportedly with neo-Nazi tendencies.”
That is the first U.S. Embassy cable pertaining to new information. The Embassy believed that the informant had credible information about the Chilean military participation in Boris’ disappearance. In the cable addressed to the Secretary of State, Deputy Chief of Mission Mr. Jones stated that to take no action could be equivalent to abounding an American citizen. Embassy also requested the Department’s concurrence.
The department of State expresses concern about new reports claiming that Weisfeiler is still alive. They suggest that Embassy officials approach the Government of Chile about searching and investigating Colonia Dignidad.
This memo summarizes a conversation with Emilio Zambrano, in mid-1986 the head of Carabineros, who investigated Boris’ Weisfeiler disappearance. The author of the memo describes the investigation, which exonerates the Government of Chile and the carabineros of any responsibility, as “sketchy”. The OS-7 team did not even attempt to interview the Carabineros who had been at the Nuble at the time of disappearance – they talked to the ones who were there in mid-1986
This internal CIA memorandum goes over the Agency’s ideas as to what happened to Boris Weisfeiler. The memo’s author finds the theory “more plausible” that Weisfeiler was detained, “fatally beaten, then thrown into the river”, contradicting the Government of Chile’s version of the story.
A U.S. Embassy cable summarazes the first interview of Carabineros’ in 1988. The Carabineros, who participated in the 'search party', claimed they found footprints. At their interview each Carabinero, however, provided different account on the time and place of such a find, or of the pattern of the footprints.
A U.S. Embassy cable summarazes Embassy's efforts re the Weisfeiler case since the last summary sent in June 1987, three years after Boris Weisfeiler disappeared while hiking in Chile, the case remains open...
Given the names of a military patrol presumably involved in Weisfeiler disappearance and requested an assistance as members of an army unit, as a U.S. documents stated, “were not allowed by their superiors to give evidence."
In the note U.S. Embassy admitted receiving “numerous official and unofficial reports” concerning Boris’ Weisfeiler disappearance. More then three and one-half years after Boris vanished, U.S. Embassy is requesting permission to interview four Carabineros involved in the search for Mr. Weisfeiler in January 1985.
Almost two years after the witnesses’ testimony “post requests Department approval to obtain legal services to permit consular officers to perform duties relating to protection of U.S. nationals”
Eight month later after the initial request, the Department of State finally responds to a request by the American Embassy for permission to hire a lawyer in Chile to investigate the Weisfeiler case by refusing to fund the hiring of an attorney and stating that the embassy can do so only if they pay for it themselves.
After receiving the positive response from the Department of State, Consul William Barkell requested an Embassy’s administration for funding. The administration refuses to fund the investigation stating “there are no funds available for this project”.
In March 1990, the same informant who called himself “Daniel” again contacted Sr. Maximo Pacheco, and through him forwarded to the U.S. Embassy a written statement repeating the story of Boris’ unlawful arrest by an army patrol and torture at Colonia Dignidad. The report described Boris’ abduction and pointed name of the officer involved in torture. Report is in Spanish and its English informal translation attached.
The U.S. Embassy submitted Boris Weisfeiler’s name to the Truth and Reconciliation Rettig Commission. Only basic background information was given. All of the documentation gathered by the U.S. Embassy during a five-year investigation and contained in a large Weisfeiler file was classified by the U.S. Department of State as secret and therefore not made available to the members of a Chilean Commission for evaluation.
The Rettig Commission determined that the evidence in Weisfeiler’s case was insufficient to declare that his disappearance was caused by agents of the GOC.
The memo provides information about U.S. Embassy’s suspicions of Weisfeiler’ fate: murder, possibly by the Colonia Dignidad members, was suspected.
In October 1997 the U.S. Embassy in Santiago receives an anonymous report on the disappearance and murder of an American citizen, Boris Weisfeiler. An informant made a statement to the radio talk host Prof. Ricardo Israel and to then Senator Jose Antonio Viera-Gallo reporting on Weisfeiler’s arrest by a military patrol and his execution, presumably committed inside of Colonia Dignidad and by Colonia officials. The report resulted in no action either by the U.S. Embassy or by the Government of Chile.