Gestapo Chief. When Klaus Barbie arrived in Lyon, France, he was assigned dual tasks: dismantle the Resistance and rid the city of Jews. His job was made easy by the many French who collaborated. He sent thousands of people to Auschwitz and captured and killed the head of the Resistance, Jean Moulin. He fled to South America, but was traced by Nazi hunters and extradited and placed on trial in France charged with 177 crimes against humanity. He was born Nikolaus "Klaus" Barbie in the little German village of Bad Godesberg located on the Rhine River. His parents were both teachers in the village schools. He was a mediocre student but excelled in languages becoming fluent in French, Spanish and had a strong grasp of many other European languages. Barbie finally earned a degree and the unemployed Barbie fully devoted himself to the Nazi Party developing a fanaticism and an undying commitment. He passed the racial and medical purity test and became a member of Himmler's SS. He underwent intense SS training emerging with a rank of Lieutenant. His first major assignment was Amsterdam where he proved himself a model of Gestapo standards. He was awarded his first Iron Cross for his work in rounding up and deporting the city's Jewish population. A much larger reward was re-assignment as Chief Gestapo of Lyon, France now under control of the Vichy government and the stronghold of the French Resistance. He delved into his job with zeal by deporting thousands of Jews while killing hundreds of French civilians suspected of aiding the Resistance. His most callous act was the rounding up and deportation of forty-four Jewish children found hiding in the village of Izeu to certain death in Auschwitz. His greatest notoriety came from the arrest, torture and death of Jean Moulin, the highest ranking member of the French Resistance. For this, he received from Hitler himself, the "First Class Iron Cross with Swords." Just before Lyons was liberated, he fled to Germany and hid until the war ended. With the help of American Counterintelligence Corps, escaped to Latin America with his wife and children where he enjoyed a long and prosperous career under an alias name. His police and language skills earned him lucrative employment with police in both Peru and Bolivar. He even enjoyed long vacations to Europe including a Paris trip where he visited and placed flowers on the tomb of Jean Moulin. The French government had sentenced him to death in absentia. Identified by Nazi hunters, the Bolivian government refused to extradite Barbie. France finally sent a cargo plane loaded with weapons and cash and Barbie was transferred to Lyons and lodged in the same prison where he had incarcerated his many victims including Jean Moulin. Tried in Lyon, he escaped death. This penalty was now outlawed in France, but Barbie received the maximum life imprisonment. However, the "Butcher of Lyons" soon escaped again by dying of cancer. He was quickly cremated and his ashes secretly scattered.
Bio by: Donald Greyfield