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Olga Weisfeiler Recently Talked With
President Bachelet About The
TAPES MAY SHED NEW LIGHT ON DISAPPEARANCE OF U.S.
Colonia Dignidad Conversation Could Provide Clues
On Boris Weisfeiler Abduction
(August 17, 2006) Recordings
obtained by Chile’s La Nación newspaper this week could finally lead
to closure in the case of Boris Weisfeiler, the only American known
to have been disappeared under the Pinochet dictatorship. The
Russian-born mathematician vanished after a hiking trip in southern
Chile in 1985.
Weisfeiler, a Penn State math professor, is
believed to have been turned over to the Colonia Dignidad German
cult community by Chilean military officials, where he was most
likely killed (March 28, 2006).
The recordings obtained by La
Nación were made by a novice radio enthusiast three months after
Weisfeiler’s disappearance on April 2, 1985, and feature a
conversation, in German, between Colonia Dignidad leaders Kurt
Schnellenkamp and Gerhard Mucke.
The conversation centers on
an unnamed person who would soon “be buried in the cemetery.” Making
light of the situation, a voice can be heard saying, “The potatoes
are already feeding.”
Schnellenkamp, who was in Concepción,
is heard giving Mucke instructions, to which he adds, “They don’t
recommend that we do it. Not Us! Someone here is already coming to
take care of it.”
Until this week, there have been no new
leads in the case since 1987 when a Chilean military informant told
U.S. embassy officials that he was a part of a military patrol that
arrested a foreign hiker and concluded he was a Russian spy.
According to the informant, Weisfeiler was alive as of 1987
and held in Colonia Dignidad, now known to have been a torture
center used by the Pinochet military regime (ST, July 25). Chile’s
military has repeatedly denied arresting Boris Weisfeiler or handing
him over to Colonia Dignidad.
The recordings may finally
bring an end to one of the strangest cases in Chile’s history.
Followers of the case hope they will prompt presiding Judge Jorge
Zepeda to interrogate Mucke and Schnellenkamp and find out the
subject of the recorded conversation. Last month, Mucke testified to
Zepeda that over 22 disappeared people were killed and chemically
burnt at the colony (ST, July 25).
Olga Weisfeiler, Boris’
sister, has led a campaign to uncover the truth of her brother’s
disappearance. She has traveled to Chile numerous times and recently
met with President Bachelet to discuss the issue.
to Olga, Boris promised to call her upon completion of his hike, but
never called. Olga’s campaign led the Pinochet government to conduct
a cursory investigation, which concluded that he had drowned in a
river, an account Olga never believed.
Olga visited Colonia
Dignidad in November 2004 to learn more about her brother’s
disappearance. But she wasn’t able to find any answers. She told the
Santiago Times that the Colonia’s new leaders were “evasive. They
are not saying that he isn’t there, they just say that they are too
young to know what happened 20 years ago. It is very depressing. I
kept looking and thinking in which corner, under which tree, is my
brother kept” (ST, June 8).
During President Michelle
Bachelet’s official visit to the United States last June, Olga and
her niece Anna Weisfeiler met Bachelet in Washington. Bachelet
promised to “do everything possible” to find out exactly what
happened in January 1985. The President, who acknowledged the
“chaotic” state of the case, also recognized that there were still
“many unanswered questions that require greater investigation,” Olga
said. (ST, June 8)
Olga and Anna’s congressman,
Representative Barney Frank, who has taken a special interest in the
case, said, “It is encouraging that President Bachelet agreed to
meet with the Weisfeilers and indicated a serious interest in making
the resolution of the case a higher priority.”
repeatedly urged both the U.S. government and Chilean authorities to
devote more resources to the case and to expedite a full accounting
of what happened to Boris Weisfeiler.
In related news,
Chile’s Supreme Court this week rejected Judge Zepeda’s request to
extradite five former Colonia Dignidad officials who fled to
Argentina. Zepeda had charged Peter Schmidt, Wolfgang Zeitner,
Matthias Gerlach, Renate Freitag, and Rebecca Schafer with illicit
association in connection with various crimes committed at the
colony. According to the ruling, “all of the requirements to
extradite people residing in another nation’s territory were not
(Ed. Note: The Santiago Times’ archive provides
in-depth coverage of the Weisfeiler case and the other crimes that
took place at the Colonia Dignidad.)
SOURCE: LA NACIÓN
Nathan Crooks (firstname.lastname@example.org)