Klaus Barbie-The Butcher of Lyon

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The story of Klaus Barbie has always intrigued me. His story tells the unfortunate tale of humanity, it is proof that the lives of ordinary humans and victims really don’t matter. Regardless how evil someone is ,if he has any kind of value to any government, heaven and earth will be moved to keep him alive and out of captivity.For these animals justice quite literally is blind.

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Klaus(Nikolaus) Barbie was born in Bad Godesberg, near Bonn, on October 25, 1913. Barbie was born to a Roman Catholic family. In 1914, his father, also named Nickolaus, was conscripted to fight in the First World War. He returned an angry, bitter man. Wounded in the neck at Verdun and captured by the French, whom he hated, he never recovered his health,He became an alcoholic who abused his children.Klaus Barbie’s parents were both teachers. Until 1923 he went to the school where his father taught. Afterward, he attended a boarding school in Trier. In 1925, his whole family moved to Trier. In 1933, Barbie’s father and brother both died. The death of his abusive, alcoholic father derailed plans for young Barbie to study theology or otherwise become an academic, as his peers had expected. While unemployed, Barbie was drafted into the Nazi labor service (Reichsarbeitsdienst); membership was compulsory for all young German men and women.

On the 26 September 1935 Barbie joined the SS, membership number 272, 284 and eventually joined the SD (Sicherheitsdienst – Security Service) arm of the SS.

On 20 April 1940 he graduated and was promoted to SS –Untersturmfuhrer and five days later he married Regine Willms, a stocky twenty-three year old daughter of a postal worker from Osburg. Almost immediately after the wedding Barbie rejoined his SD detachment and was part of von Runstedt’s army invading the Low Countries and France.

Barbie was officially posted to Holland on the 29 May 1940, Barbie’s SD unit was under the direct command of Willy Lages, the SD commander in the Hague, and his unit was shortly afterwards transferred to the Zentralstelle in Amsterdam, the “Central Bureau for Jewish Emigration.” Barbie’s responsibilities included rounding up German émigrés, freemasons and Jews.On the 12 February 1941, the German authorities used the death of a Dutch Nazi, Hendrik Koot killed in a fight with Dutch dockworkers, as a pretext to seal off the Jewish quarter of Amsterdam.

Below is the NSB(Dutch National Socialist Party) weekly news paper, with he headlines the murder of Koot, describing it as a Jews Crime.

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On 19 February 1941 an SD raid in Amsterdam entered a tavern called Koco, run by Jewish refugees from Germany, Cahn and Kohn. In the tavern, a protective device which Cahn had installed, an ammonia flash went off by accident, spaying the Germans with ammonia.The SD raid was commanded by Klaus Barbie and after some violence everyone inside was arrested and three days later, as a reprisal for his act of “resistance” , the SS raided the Jewish quarter of Amsterdam, seized 425 Jews, most of them young men.

They were assembled on the Jonas Daniel –Meyer –plein subjected them to beatings and abuse and then on 27 February 1941 deported 389 of them to Buchenwald concentration camp and after two months 361 of them were deported to Mauthausen concentration camp and certain death.

The arrests were followed by a general strike, Barbie was ordered to execute Cahn and his associates, who had been condemned to death. Barbie was put in charge of the execution squad.

In 1942, he was sent to Dijon, France, in the Occupied Zone. In November of the same year, at the age of 29, he was assigned to Lyon as the head of the local Gestapo. He established his headquarters at the Hôtel Terminus in Lyon,

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where he personally tortured prisoners: men, women, and children alike,breaking extremities, using electroshock, and sexually abusing them (including with dogs), among other methods. He became known as the “Butcher of Lyon”.In Marcel Ophüls’s Oscar-winning documentary film, Hôtel Terminus: The Life and Times of Klaus Barbie,

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the daughter of a French Resistance leader based in Lyon recounts her father’s torture by Barbie – her father was beaten, skinned alive, and his head immersed in a bucket of ammonia; he died shortly after.

Historians estimate that Barbie was directly responsible for the deaths of up to 14,000 people. He arrested Jean Moulin, one of the highest-ranking members of the French Resistance and his most prominent enemy figure. In 1943.

Jean Moulin was mercilessly tortured by Klaus Barbie and his men. Hot needles where shoved under his fingernails. His fingers were forced through the narrow space between the hinges of a door and a wall and then the door was repeatedly slammed until the knuckles broke.

Screw-levered handcuffs were placed on Moulin and tightened until they bit through his flesh and broke through the bones of his wrists. He would not talk. He was whipped. He was beaten until his face was an unrecognizable pulp. A fellow prisoner, Christian Pineau, later described the resistance leader as“unconscious, his eyes dug in as though they had been punched through his head. An ugly blue wound scarred his temple. A mute rattle came out of his swollen lips.”

Jean Moulin remained in this coma when he was shown to other resistance leaders who were being interrogated at Gestapo headquarters. Barbie had ordered Moulin put on display in an office. His unconscious form sprawled on a chaise lounge. His face was yellow, his breathing heavy, his head swathed in bandages. It was the last time Moulin was seen alive.

On behalf of his cruel crimes and specially for the Moulin case, Barbie was awarded, by Hitler himself, the “First Class Iron Cross with Swords.

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In April 1944, Barbie ordered the deportation to Auschwitz of a group of 44 Jewish children from an orphanage at Izieu.

A Jewish home for children

After his operations in Lyon, he rejoined the SiPo-SD of Lyon in Bruyères, where he led an anti-partisan attack in Rehaupal in September 1944.

After the war, Klaus Barbie was recruited by the Western Allies and worked for the British until 1947, then he switched his allegiance to the Americans. He was protected and employed by American intelligence agents because of his “police skills” and anti-Communist zeal – he penetrated communist cells in the German Communist Party.

With the aid of the Americans, he fled from prosecution in France in 1950 and relocated to South America together with his wife and children. He may have helped the CIA capture Argentine revolutionary Che Guevara in 1967.

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The French discovered that Barbie was in U.S. hands and, having sentenced him to death in absentia for war crimes, made a plea to John J. McCloy, U.S. High Commissioner for Germany, to hand him over for execution, but McCloy allegedly refused. Instead, the CIC allegedly helped him flee to Bolivia with the help of “ratlines” organized by U.S. intelligence services, and Croatian Roman Catholic clergy, including Father Krunoslav Draganović. The CIC asserted that Barbie knew too much about the network of German spies the CIC had planted in various European Communist organizations, and were suspicious of the Communist influence within the French government, but their protection of Barbie may have been as much to avoid the embarrassment of having recruited him.

Barbie CIC memorandum

In 1965, Barbie was recruited by the West German foreign intelligence agency Bundesnachrichtendienst (BND), under the codename “Adler” (Eagle) and the registration number V-43118. His initial monthly salary of 500 Deutsche Mark was transferred in May 1966 to an account of the Chartered Bank of London in San Francisco. During his time with the BND, Barbie made at least 35 reports to the BND headquarters in Pullach.

Barbie emigrated to Bolivia, where he lived under the alias, Klaus Altmann. He had less embarrassment being employed there than in Europe, and enjoyed excellent relations with high-ranking Bolivian officials, including Bolivian dictators Hugo Banzer and Luis García Meza Tejada. “Altmann” was known for his nationalist and anti-communist stances.While conducting his arms trade operations in Bolivia, he was appointed to the rank of Lt. Colonel within the Bolivian Armed Forces.

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Barbie was identified as living in Bolivia in 1971 by the Serge and Beate Klarsfeld(Nazi hunters from France).

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The testimony of the Italian insurgent Stefano Delle Chiaie before the Italian Parliamentary Commission on Terrorism suggests that Barbie took part in the “Cocaine Coup” of Luis García Meza Tejada, when the regime forced its way to power in Bolivia in 1980. On 19 January 1983, the newly elected government of Hernán Siles Zuazo arrested Barbie and extradited him to France to stand trial.

In 1984, Barbie was indicted for crimes committed while he directed the Gestapo in Lyon between 1942 and 1944. The jury trial started on 11 May 1987, in Lyon, before the Rhône Cour d’assises. Unusually, the court allowed the trial to be filmed because of its historical value. A special court room with seating for an audience of about 700 was constructed.[19] The head prosecutor was Pierre Truche.At the trial Barbie received support not only from Nazi apologists like François Genoud, but also from leftist lawyer Jacques Vergès.

Klaus Barbie in his prison cell

The lead defense attorney was Jacques Vergès, who argued that Barbie’s actions were no worse than the ordinary actions of colonialists worldwide, and that his trial was selective prosecution. The head prosecutor was Pierre Truche. During his trial, Barbie famously stated that: “When I stand before the throne of God I shall be judged innocent”.

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On July 4, 1987, Barbie was sentenced to life imprisonment for crimes against humanity, Klaus Barbie died of cancer in prison on the 25 September 1991.

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