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I Surrender: A Memoir of Chile's Dictatorship, 1975

Kathleen M. Osberger

September 5, 2023

Today I talked to Kathleen Osberger about her book I Surrender: A Memoir of Chile's Dictatorship, 1975 (Oribis Books, 2023).

In 1975, Kathleen Osberger, who’d just graduated from Notre Dame University, flew to Chile to teach in a Catholic school in Santiago. She was assigned to live with several religious women, and when she arrived, was told that they would sometimes shelter dissidents who were wanted by the secret police. This was after the CIA assisted coup that overthrew democratically elected president, Salvador Allende in 1973. Augusto Pinochet then ruled Chile as a dictator, clamping down on unrest, journalists, and critics. Those who tried tried to protect some of these dissidents from detention, torture, disappearance, and death were considered traitors and received the same punishment. Kathy Osberger learned all this, but she still wasn’t prepared when the secret police came with a warrant for her arrest, forced her into a car, and handed her a blindfold. They soon let her go, but everyone knew they’d come back, and she had to disappear.

Kathleen Osberger earned her B.A. at the University of Notre Dame, an M.A. from Maryknoll School of Theology, and an A.M. from the University of Chicago–School of Social Work Administration. Her life was shaped by volunteer experiences when she lived in San Miguelito, Panamá; Santiago, Chile; Chimbote, Perú and the South Bronx. In 1987 she began a seventeen-year relationship with the Maryknoll Lay Missioners as an instructor in their orientation to mission program and in 1993 she joined the University of Chicago Hospitals—Department of Psychiatry. Her work as a licensed clinical social worker and psychotherapist has centered on the issues of trauma and torture.

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