Klaus Barbie

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Klaus Barbie
Klaus Barbie
Full name Nikolaus Barbie
Birthday/Birthplace (1913-10-25)25 October 1913
Bad Godesberg, Germany
Deceased 25 September 1991(1991-09-25)
Lyon, France (incarcerated)
Allegiance  Nazi Germany
 United States of America
Service/branch Gestapo
Years of service 1933–1945
Rank SS-Hauptsturmführer
Service number
  • SS # 272,284
  • NSDAP # 4,583,085
Unit Sicherheitsdienst

Second World War

  • Holocaust
Accusations war crimes
crime against humanity Information Birth October 25, 1913
 Bad Godesberg, German Empire Death September 25, 1991 (77 & nbsp; years)
 Lyon, France [edit data in Wikidata]

Klaus Barbie Altmann (Bad Godesberg, Germany, October 25, 1913 – Lyon, France, September 25, 1991) was a senior officer of the SS and the Gestapo during the Nazi regime , who was involved in numerous war crimes against humanity during the Second World War, especially in France. He was known as “The Butcher of Lyon” because he personally tortured French prisoners of the Gestapo while he was stationed in Lyon.

Saved from detention by the American secret services and the Ratlines, with which Barbie had previously collaborated, he subsequently went on to live and collaborate with Bolivia. Just as Mengele hid in Brazil and Eduard Roschmann did it in Paraguay, he also chose South America, given the lack of institutional infrastructure that allowed some room for maneuver to individuals with such a background. Moreover, when the ideological alignment of the South American governments with the United States in times of the “cold war” positioned them in anti-communism, these criminals became required as collaborators, receiving great benefits from governments. In the case of Barbie, this was reflected in commercial privileges on the part of the Bolivian government. Finally the variable political situation of Bolivia led to that in 1983 he was expelled to France, where he was tried and sentenced to life imprisonment. He was accused of the death or extradition of 840 people (including 41 Jewish children who were in a Catholic center studying) and finally convicted of 341 charges. Among them the death of the leader of the resistance in the France of Vichy Jean Moulin.

Klaus Barbie’s Biography

He was the son of Nikolaus Barbie and Anna Hees, both teachers, who got married a year after he was born. His father returned seriously wounded of the First World War. In 1934 he did the baccalaureate in Trier. Later he entered the Hitler Youth and was a personal assistant to the local head of the Nazi party. Barbie could not go to the university because the family could not afford the studies after the death of the father. Then he volunteered six months to a camp of the Reich Labor Service, the Reichsarbeitsdienst (RAD) in Schleswig-Holstein, from where he returned fully imbued with the ideology of the Third Reich.

Nazi Germany

He enlisted in the SS (Schutzstaffel) on September 26, 1935 (with the number & nbsp; 272,284) and began working in the General Directorate of the Security Service Sicherheitsdienst (SD) from September 29, 1935 , as well as in the Gestapo of Berlin. On May 1, 1937 he joined the National Socialist German Workers Party (NSDAP), with the card number 4,583,085, being promoted on April 20, 1940 to Untersturmführer (equivalent to second lieutenant). In 1941, during the Second World War, Barbie was assigned to Section IVB4 and sent to Amsterdam, and later, in May 1942, to Lyon, France. There he earned the nickname “ The Butcher of Lyon ” as head of the local Gestapo. He was accused of numerous crimes, including the capture of forty-four Jewish children hidden in the town of Izieu, and the torture and subsequent death of Jean Moulin, the highest-ranking member of the French Resistance ever caught by the Nazis. In France alone, 7,500 people, 4,432 murders and the arrest and torture of 14,311 Resistance fighters are attributed to their activity or that of their subordinates.


After the departure of the German army from Lyon, Barbie flew to Germany and created a new life under false identity. Initially he directed a cabaret in Munich and made deals on the black market, later Barbie was protected and employed by the counter-espionage services of the United States Army (CIC), for which he worked in Germany between 1947 and 1951, In activities against communism, that year, in response to repeated French requests to be extradited (to which the US authorities declared that they did not know the whereabouts of the criminal), he went to Bolivia. – escape routes organized after the Second World War so that Nazi and fascist war criminals could flee and avoid being prosecuted for the crimes they had committed – organized by the US secret services and the Croatian Ustashi priest Krunoslav Draganovic, passing circumstantially through Argentina, Barbie, his wife and two children arrived in Bolivia at the end of 1955. There, Barbie adopted Altman’s surname – that of the rabbi of his native town – and he started to run a sawmill in La Paz, a business he dedicated himself to before trading in quinine and establishing relations with ex-Nazis refugees in neighboring countries and with the local military. During the dictatorship of General Barrientos, who came to power in 1964 after a coup d’état, Barbie was appointed general manager of the state maritime company, the Compañía Transmarítima Boliviana, created by Barrientos in 1967 with public and private capital, which acted as a cover of arms trafficking at the service of the dictatorship.

After the death of Barrientos in a helicopter accident in 1969, Barbie’s fate seemed to worsen and, after the bankruptcy of the Transmaritima in 1971, Barbie left Bolivia and settled in Peru, where she took the surname Altmann and was linked to the murder of businessman Luis Banchero Rossi, however, there his identity was revealed by the press, which led Cazanazis Serge and Beate Klarsfeld to find their whereabouts and begin a campaign of harassment, in the style of that today is called escrache. Before the harassment, he returned to Bolivia protected by the successive dictatorships of Hugo Banzer (1971-1978) and Luis García Meza Tejada (1980-1981), in whose coup d’état he took part.In 1974, France asked Bolivia for extradition Barbie, who was denied on the grounds that there was no extradition treaty between the two countries During the dictatorship of García Meza, Barbie was responsible for the organization of violent paramilitary groups at the service of the regime, during which Ernesto Milà worked with him .

The privileged situation of Barbie changed in 1982, with the arrival of a democratic center-left government in the country. On January 25, 1983, the government of President Siles Suazo deported Barbie, recently arrested for fraud, to France, and shortly before, his wife, Regina, had died of cancer in La Paz in 1982.


Trial, conviction and death

His trial began in January 1987 in Lyon. Barbie had already been sentenced to death twice in absentia during his concealment in Bolivia (in 1952 and 1954, in France ), but given that the war crimes that took place in Vichy France prescribed at 20 years , only he was judged by the deportations of civil populations. There were three fundamentally: the deportation of the 44 Jewish children refugees in a colony in Izieu, the raid and subsequent deportation of more than 80 people in the headquarters of the Union General of Israelis of France in Lyon, and the so-called “last train”, in which between 300 and 600 people were deported a few days before the entry of allied troops in Lyon.

The trial was authorized because of its high historical value, although the images of the trial were not immediately disseminated. Barbie denied all charges and limited herself to testifying. His defense lawyer was Jacques Vergès, who used an argument based on the thesis that Barbie’s actions were no more terrible than those of any colonialist anywhere in the world, including the French, who were never persecuted: gives the right to judge Barbie when we, as a whole, as a society or as a nation, are guilty of similar crimes? “[13] The chief prosecutor was Pierre Truche. Finally, on July 4 of that year he was sentenced to life imprisonment for crimes against humanity. Four years later, when he was in prison on September 25, 1991, he died of leukemia.

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