At least nine boys were knowingly placed with pedophiles by West Berlin officials on the advice of a scientist who was later disgraced for his views.
For decades psychologist Helmut Kentler argued that children could benefit from pedophilic relationships with adults.
Instead of becoming a pariah, however, he managed to convince Berlin authorities to take part in an experiment placing vulnerable boys with pedophilic men that lasted between 1969 and 2003.
The revelations have been widely known among researchers for years now and the institutions involved, including Kentler’s former employers, have condemned the scientist and renounced their part in the episode.
Nevertheless on social media where the story is only now going viral, the news is causing shock and outrage.
Kentler proposed that children would “love” their experiences with the men, some of whom had past criminal convictions for sex abuse, instead predictably they were subjected to sexual assault.
The Times of London recounts the story of one victim named Marco, who was handed over to a pedophile named Fritz H when he was just six years old in 1989.
For 10 years he was repeatedly beaten and raped by the sex offender and was only able to escape until he grew strong enough to fight back.
Four other boys were kept for fostering with the same pedophile. One of them, named Sascha, would later die of pneumonia in 2003 of the neglect he underwent.
Many of those chosen to be placed with pedophiles had traumatic pasts, including experiences of child prostitution and substance abuse.
Kentler, who was respected in his field of sexuality even at the time of his death in 2008, was considered an expert witness in pedophilia cases and was even reported to have boasted about his part in exonerating pedophiles on trial.
While Berlin authorities have ordered an inquiry, the results have yet to be published and investigators have warned the full scale of the abuses might never be known. Investigators do not know, for example, the exact number of children involved in the experiment.
Berlin’s Youth Affairs minister, Sandra Scheeres, who published a separate report into the scandal said: “It was a crime to put these people into this kind of care,” adding: “It is simply unimaginable that something like this happened with state oversight.”
Two surviving victims are pursuing compensation from the German authorities.
Kentler’s former employers at the University of Hannover have also disassociated themselves from the disgraced scientist’s work.
Researchers looking into the case have found that some of the pedophilic foster parents were academics at Berlin’s Max Planck Institute and the Free University.
According to the German police there were nearly 16,000 cases of sexual violence targeting minors in 2019 with another 12,262 cases of possession of child pornography.
In recent years, the country has tried to treat pedophilia as a disorder and has offered therapy to pedophiles so that they are less likely to offend.