Jan Stehle

Jan Stehle is a researcher at the Chile-Latin America Research and Documentation Center (FDCL) in Berlin. He is an economist (Free University of Berlin) and a doctor in political science (Free University of Berlin). His areas of research are Human Rights, International Relations, Transitional Justice, Memory Policies, and Access to Information. In particular, he has dedicated himself to investigating Colonia Dignidad - an emblematic Chilean-German case of serious human rights violations - focusing on the political and legal responsibilities of both states.

Main publications:

2020. Der Fall Colonia Dignidad – Zum Umgang bundesdeutscher Außenpolitik und Justiz mit schweren Menschenrechtsverletzungen. Dissertation, Freie Universität Berlin 2020.

2018. La muerte de Karl Stricker y la amnesia de Otto Dörr, en: CIPER 10.04.2018, disponible online:

2016. con Elelyn Hevia. Colonia Dignidad: verdad, justicia y memoria - Los derechos humanos, el talón de Aquiles de la política exterior de la RFA. Fundación Rosa Luxemburgo. Puntos de debate no. 6/2016. Disponible online:

2015. con Evelyn Hevia. Los estados y los derechos humanos: aproximaciones a cinco décadas de Colonia Dignidad, en: Hevia, Evelyn/Jan Stehle (eds.). Colonia Dignidad: diálogos sobre verdad, justicia y memoria, Santiago 2015, S. 11–20.

2015. con Dieter Maier. Colonia Dignidad – pieza clave en el aparato represor de la dictadura cívico-militar. Orígenes, historia criminal y preguntas abiertas, en: Hevia, Evelyn/Jan Stehle (eds.). Colonia Dignidad: diálogos sobre verdad, justicia y memoria, Santiago 2015, S. 27–70.


Research project as a fellow of CALAS:

Title: Colonia Dignidad - a transnational case of human rights violations and their economic background

Abstract: In Colonia Dignidad, a settlement of German citizens in southern Chile, systematic violations to human rights were committed between 1961 and 2005. These crimes were committed by one part against inhabitants of the property (internal crimes) who were deprived of their liberty and subjected to sexual abuse, torture, and forced labor. On the other hand, external crimes were committed, especially in the framework of a repressive alliance between Colonia Dignidad and the Chilean civil-military dictatorship (1973-1990). Hundreds of political prisoners were tortured at the scene, several dozen people were killed and they remain missing. Already democracy was back, in the 1990s, Chilean children were sexually abused in the settlement.

This project investigates the economic foundations of this criminal system and the role they play to this day. Colonia Dignidad still exists today under the name of Villa Baviera and a network of public limited companies created towards the end of the Chilean dictatorship still administers the heritage of the place. Central questions of this project are: How important was the economic structure for the continuity of the Colonia Dignidad system through the decades? What is the relationship between this economic structure and the precarious state of clarification and punishment of crimes, memory policies, and reparation measures?