Klaus Barbie

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Nikolaus 'Klaus' Barbie (October 25, 1913 – September 25, 1991) was an SS-Hauptsturmführer (rank approximately equivalent to army captain), Gestapo member and war criminal. He was known as the Butcher of Lyon.


Early life

Klaus Barbie was born in Bad Godesberg, today part of Bonn, Germany. 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.

In September 1935, he joined the Sicherheitsdienst (SD), the special security branch service of the 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

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 tortured prisoners and is responsible for the deaths of up to 4,000 people.[1] The most infamous case is the arrest and torture of Jean Moulin, one of the highest-ranking members of the French Resistance. In April 1944, Barbie ordered the deportation to Auschwitz of a group of 44 Jewish children from an orphanage at 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.

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