If only it were fictional. If only every scene in this new documentary series from RTVE Play  – in association with 100 Balas and The Mediapro Studio-, were a recreation of events that had never occurred, events that hadn’t gone on for decades in Spain. That it were all a chilling tale of cruelty that had never happened. In that case, we’d come to the end of the series wondering what sort of twisted mind could possibly have dreamt up something like this and then we’d just get back to our lives. Unfortunately, everything narrated in the documentary series ‘Edelweiss’, which premiered on September 22 on the new digital platform, is directly taken from real life. For more than two hours and four episodes, we bear witness to the horror. Of the rape of children at the hands of this degenerate who never knew how to control his obsession with having sex with minors, using the excuse that if they submitted to his sick demands, only then would they survive the end of the world and go to another planet, a place he referred to as planet Delhaiss.

No screenwriter could ever have come up with a story so bizarre and terrifying at the same time: the creation of a youth mountaineering club, made up of 11 and 12-year-old boys who are subjected to paramilitary-styled training, so they’ll survive the end of the Earth and continue life on another planet, believing in the existence of UFOs and extraterrestrial beings with whom contact is impossible. As it happens, their leader known as Prince Alain, is one of them. An alien, a messiah claiming he can save us all as long as we obey his every order to a T, especially engaging in sexual acts whenever he so desires. A manipulative pedophile who raped dozens of children, sex-trafficking boys to supply men in power, and who was never duly punished for all the pain and suffering he inflicted, serving a paltry six years of a 168-year sentence

1970. While Franco’s busy taking control of Spanish people’s freedom, Eduardo González Arenas, ‘Eddie’, preys on and all the children he wishes. The story begins in Madrid, but his network soon spread its tentacles to Alicante and Vigo, among other regions. Year on year, his sect advanced effortlessly, grooming and signing up more and more children while their families remained entirely in the dark, unaware of their fate and only discovering the truth of what their children have been subjected to at the very end. And, what happens in the Edelweiss sect, stays in the Edelweiss sect. The young recruits were sworn to absolute secrecy, warned never to talk about the sexual abuses they suffered at the hands of their leader and his right-hand man, Carlos de los Ríos (although they were not the only ones as several instructors were also involved). Loose lips means perishing on Earth, missing out on salvation and the opportunity of a new life on another planet. Your secret must accompany you to your grave.

Carlos de los Ríos offer us one of the most spine-chilling witness statements in the documentary – RTVE Play’s first original project. As he looks at us through the camera lens, he explains calmly how he occupied Eddie’s place when the leader was away for a few days. Filling his boots in every manner of the word, which inevitably also involved raping the children. At times during the four-part series, and his interview is bloodcurdling at times. He justifies what went on in the houses and premises rented by the sect to satisfy their desires: “There was no such thing as rape. Not a single one, because it was something completely normal. You wanted to do it.” And add the final nail in the coffin: “I have no feelings of guilt. None. This wasn’t a club of queers and pedophiles, no sir, this was a cult“. De los Rios, who doesn’t see himself as being guilty of anything and describes it all as standard practice, systematically abused 11 and 12-year-old boys for years. Children who, taking advantage of their innocence, he raped untroubled.

The heartbreaking accounts are also backed up by other interviewees statements, making it all-the-more perverse. The series, created and directed by Eulogio Romero, available free-to-view on the streaming platform, features compelling witness statements besides those of Carlos de los Ríos and the children who were victims of the abuse. Voices that are indeed shocking to listen to. We hear from Eduardo Bravo, an expert in sects, Perfecto Conde, staff writer for the Spanish magazine ‘Interviú’ and who investigated Edelweiss in greater depth  than any, José A. Ávila, police inspector on the case, and criminal psychologist Miguel Perlado. Each interview brings us closer to the horror, to the psychopathic mind of Eddie, a former legionnaire fascinated with Nazism who asked children to defend three core ideas: love, justice and freedom. Three concepts that, interestingly enough, he never practiced himself. He neither showed them love, nor were they privy to justice or freedom. Instead, they were shackled to a lie for the sole purpose of his amusement of abusing them.

Bárbara Padilla
Bárbara Padilla. Collaborator in the Series section of La Vanguardia. News editor and presenter on RAC1. Barcelona-based journalist since 2007. An amateur movie buff since she was old enough to know right from wrong and of series since the Netflix boom.