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Klaus Barbie

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Nikolaus 'Klaus' Barbie (October 25, 1913 – September 25, 1991) was an SS-Wikipedia:Hauptsturmführer (rank approximately equivalent to army captain), Gestapo (WP) member and war criminal (WP). He was known as the Butcher of Lyon. He was recruited by and worked for US, German and Bolivian intelligence services after the war. Barbie was identified in Bolivia as early as 1971 by the Klarsfelds Nazi hunters; on January 19, 1983, the Bolivian government of Hernán Siles Zuazo arrested and extradited him to France (WP). He was found guilty of [[crimes against humanity (WP), and died serving a life sentence Wikipedia:leukemia four years later, at the age of 77.

Early life[edit]

Klaus Barbie was born in Bad Godesberg, today part of Bonn, Germany (WP). Until 1923 he went to the school where his father taught. Afterward, he attended a boarding school in Wikipedia:Trier. In 1925, his whole family moved to Trier. In 1933, Barbie's father and brother both died. The death of his abusive (WP), 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.

In September 1935, he joined the Sicherheitsdienst (SD), the special security branch service of the Wikipedia:Schutzstaffel (SS) that acted as the intelligence-gathering arm of the Nazi Party. He was sent to serve in Amsterdam in the German occupied Netherlands. In 1942, he was sent to Dijon and in November of the same year he was sent to Lyon, where he became the head of the local Gestapo.

War crimes[edit]

He first set up camp at Hôtel Terminus in Lyon. It was his time as head of the Gestapo of Lyon that earned him the name Butcher of Lyon. Evidence suggests that he personally Wikipedia:tortured prisoners, men, women, and children alike, by breaking extremities, sexual abuse using dogs, and electroshocks among other methods.[1]

It is estimated that he was directly responsible for the deaths of up to 14,000 people.[2][3] The most infamous case is the arrest and torture of Jean Moulin (WP), one of the highest-ranking members of the French Resistance (WP). In April 1944, Barbie ordered the Wikipedia:deportation to Auschwitz (WP) of a group of 44 Wikipedia:Jewish children from an orphanage at Wikipedia:Izieu. After his surgery in Lyon, Klaus Barbie rejoined the SIPO-SD of Lyon in Bruyeres-in-Vosges, France, where he was also responsible for a massacre in Rehaupal in September 1944.

CIA, BND[edit]

See also: X-2, Gladio, Bundesnachrichtendienst, and Office of Strategic Services

In 1947, Barbie became an agent for US intelligence services. At the end of Wikipedia:WWII, the Wikipedia:Office of Strategic Services (OSS) recruited a number of former Nazi Party members, at first to aid them in activities related to the war's aftermath, but increasingly in Cold War intelligence and covert regime change operations. Barbie was one of those assigned to the 66th Detachment of the Wikipedia:U.S. Army Wikipedia:Counter Intelligence Corps (CIC),[4] part of the net of organizations run by the US Army between the dissolution of the OSS and the creation of the Central Intelligence Agency (WP).[5]

In 1951, he fled to Wikipedia:Juan Peron's Argentina (WP) with the help of a ratline organized by U.S. intelligence services[6] and the Ustashi Roman Catholic priest Wikipedia:Krunoslav Draganović. Asked by Barbie why he was going out of his way to help him escape, Draganovic responded, "We have to maintain a sort of moral reserve on which we can draw in the future."[7] He then emigrated to Wikipedia:Bolivia, where he lived under the alias Klaus Altmann. Testimony of Italian insurgent Wikipedia:Stefano Delle Chiaie before the Italian Parliamentary Commission on Terrorism suggests that Barbie took part in the "Cocaine Coup" of Wikipedia:Luis García Meza Tejada, when the regime forced its way to power in Wikipedia:Bolivia in 1980.[8]

In 1965 Klaus Barbie was recruited by the German foreign intelligence agency Wikipedia:Bundesnachrichtendienst (BND) under the codename "Adler" (Eagle) and the registration number V-43118 due to both his excellent relations to high ranking Bolivian officials and his strongly nationalist and anti-communist stance.

His initial monthly salary of 500 Wikipedia:Deutsche Mark was transferred in May 1966 to an account of the Chartered Bank of London in San Francisco. During his stint with the BND he is responsible for at least 35 reports that were sent to the BND headquarters in Wikipedia:Pullach.[9]

Bolivian intelligence[edit]

Barbie was also reported to have worked as an officer for Bolivian intelligence and helped plan concentration camps, and formulate torture and repression techniques for anti-government rebels while Bolivia was under a violent Wikipedia:dictatorship.

Che Guevara[edit]

The 2007 documentary My Enemy's Enemy, directed by Oscar-winning British director Kevin Macdonald, raises the possibility that Barbie helped the CIA (WP) orchestrate the 1967 capture and execution of Marxist (WP) revolutionary Che Guevara (WP) in Bolivia.[10] In 1966 a disguised Guevara arrived in Bolivia to organise the overthrow of its military dictatorship, and according to the film, the CIA turned to Barbie for his first-hand knowledge of Wikipedia:counter-guerrilla warfare.[10]

According to Alvaro de Castro, a longtime confidant of Barbie interviewed for the film:

"He (Barbie) met Major Shelton, the commander of the unit from the US.[11] (Barbie) no doubt gave him advice on how to fight this guerrilla war. He used the expertise gained doing this kind of work in World War Two. They made the most of the fact that he had this experience."[10]

De Castro adds that Barbie "had little respect for Che Guevara", viewing him as "a pitiful adventurer."[10] In the film, journalist Kai Hermann remarks that "He (Barbie) always boasted - though I cannot prove it - that it was he who devised the strategy for murdering Che Guevara."[10]


Barbie was identified in Bolivia as early as 1971 by the Wikipedia:Klarsfelds (Wikipedia:Nazi hunters), but it was only on January 19, 1983, that the newly elected government of Wikipedia:Hernán Siles Zuazo arrested and extradited him to France (WP).

In 1984, Barbie was put on trial for crimes committed while he was in charge of the Wikipedia:Gestapo in Wikipedia:Lyon between 1942 and 1944. The trial started on May 11, 1987, in Wikipedia:Lyon — a Wikipedia:jury trial before the Rhône Wikipedia:Cour d'assises. In a rare move, the court allowed the trial to be filmed because of its historical value. Also, a special court room with seating for an audience of about 700 was constructed.[12] The head prosecutor was Pierre Truche. At the trial Barbie received support not only from Nazi apologists like Wikipedia:François Genoud, but also from Wikipedia:leftist lawyer Wikipedia:Jacques Vergès.

Barbie caused sensations on the first days of the trial: he gave his name as Klaus Altmann (the name he had used while in Bolivia) and, claiming that his extradition was technically illegal, made the request to be excused from the trial and return to his cell at St Joseph prison. This was granted though he was brought back on the 26th of May to face some of his accusers, during which he stated that he had "nothing to say".

Vergès had a reputation for attacking the French political system, particularly in the Wikipedia:French colonial empire. His strategy at the trial was to use it to expose war crimes committed by France since 1945. Indeed, many of the charges against Barbie were dropped, thanks to the legislation that had protected people accused of crimes under the Wikipedia:Vichy regime and in Wikipedia:French Algeria. Vergès further argued that Barbie's actions were no worse than the ordinary actions of colonialists worldwide, and that his trial was selective prosecution. During his trial, Barbie famously stated that: "When I stand before the throne of God I shall be judged innocent".

On July 4, 1987, Barbie was sentenced to Wikipedia:life imprisonment for Wikipedia:crimes against humanity, and died in jail (WP) in Wikipedia:Lyon of Wikipedia:leukemia four years later, at the age of 77.

In popular culture[edit]

Barbie is memorably referred to in the film Rat Race, when the Pear family stops at the "Barbie Museum", thinking it to be a museum of Wikipedia:Barbie dolls. They arrive, shocked at its true subject and threatening staff of Wikipedia:neo-nazis, who attempt to portray Klaus Barbie as a "loving husband, devoted father, wine connoisseur, and three-time ballroom dancing champion." Following their awkward departure, the Pear family finds their van destroyed and subsequently steals one of the museum's relics, Adolf Hitler's staff car.

Barbie is referred to in the song "I Saw an X-Ray of a Girl Passing Gas" on the Wikipedia:Butthole Surfers' Wikipedia:1988 album Wikipedia:Hairway to Steven.

Barbie is also referred to in the song "Wikipedia:Sheriff Fatman" by Wikipedia:Carter the Unstoppable Sex Machine from their 1989 album 101 Damnations.

In 1986, Barbie's exposure and deportation story was adapted into a TV movie starring Wikipedia:Tom Conti, Wikipedia:Farrah Fawcett and Wikipedia:Geraldine Page.

The location of Klaus Barbie is offered to the Wikipedia:Mossad by the CIA (WP) in the spy series The Company.


  1. ""Ich bin gekommen, um zu töten"". Wikipedia:Spiegel Online. 2 July 2007.,1518,489560,00.html. Retrieved 2011-01-22. </li>
  2. "Nazi war criminal Klaus Barbie gets life". Wikipedia:BBC. 3 July 1987. Retrieved 2009-05-01. </li>
  3. "Klaus Barbie ausgeliefert". Wikipedia:Spiegel Online. Retrieved 2011-01-22. </li>
  4. Operation Gladio [BBC Timewatch, 1992 State-Sponsored Terrorism in Europe] at YouTube video, 21:00 "I thought I was going to get a promotion when I told them about Barbie, and they told me to keep quiet" -Erhard Dabringhaus, US Counter Intelligence Corps during 1948-9
  5. Wolfe, Robert Analysis of the Investigative Records Repository file of Klaus Barbie. Interagency Working Group. URL accessed on 2009-05-01.
  6. Terkel, Studs (1985). Wikipedia:The Good War, Ballantine.
  7. Mark, ({{{year}}}). "Peron’s Nazi Ties," {{{journal}}}, 152, .
  8. Hearing of Wikipedia:Stefano Delle Chiaie on before the Italian Parliamentary Commission on Terrorism headed by President Wikipedia:Giovanni Pellegrino. URL accessed on 2009-05-01. Dead link
  9. "Vom Nazi-Verbrecher zum BND-Agenten". Wikipedia:Spiegel Online. 19 January 2011. Retrieved 2011-01-22. </li>
  10. 10.0 10.1 10.2 10.3 10.4 Barbie "Boasted of Hunting Down Che" by David Smith, Wikipedia:The Observer, December 23, 2007
  11. "Major Ralph Shelton obituary" by Richard Gott, Wikipedia:The Guardian, September 6, 2010
  12. , {{{first}}} (2007). L'avocat de la terreur, . La Sofica Uni Etoile 3. Documentary; English title: “Terror’s Advocate”.
  13. </ol>

Further reading[edit]

  • Hilberg, Raul (1982). "Barbie (SS, Lyon)" Die Vernichtung der europäischen Juden, 110 (in German), Olle & Wolter. Case No. 77, Fn 908 KsD Lyon IV-B (gez. Ostubaf. Barbie) an BdS, Paris IV-B, 6. April 1944, RF-1235.
  • Goni, Uki (2002). The Real Odessa: How Peron Brought the Nazi War Criminals to Argentina, Wikipedia:Granta Books. A chapter in this book also follows how top Nazis made their way to Argentina and Latin America.
  • Bower, Tom (1984). Klaus Barbie, the Butcher of Lyons, New York: Wikipedia:Pantheon Books.
  • U.S. Samurais in Bruyeres Klaus Barbie found in the Vosges Mountains in Bruyeres after his surgery in Lyon. Barbie rejoins his unit the SIPO-SD of Lyon there and was responsible of the Massacre of Rehaupal in September 1944|year=1993 |publisher=Editions du CPL [1][2]

External links[edit]

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