The Trial of Klaus Barbie (1987)

The Trial of Klaus Barbie (1987)

May 11, 1987, the Rhône Assize Court begins the Klaus Barbie trial. Klaus Barbie, SS officer of the SD (German counter-espionage services) arrived in France in June 1942. He who had already stood out in Russia for his qualities in the fight against insurgency, quickly became the head of the Gestapo Lyonnaise (February 1943). Nicknamed "the executioner of Lyon", he is responsible for the torture and assassination of Jean Moulin and many other members of the Resistance, as well as for the round-up of Izieu's children.

Klaus Barbie, a zealous Nazi executive

Born in Bad Godesberg, Germany, Klaus Barbie, born in 1913 in Bad Godesberg, Germany is a pure product of the new Nazi regime. He joined the Hitler Youth in 1933, then the organization of the SS in 1935, before joining the German National Socialist Workers' Party (Nationalsozialistische Deutsche Arbeiterpartei, NSDAP) in 1937. Working for the Sicherheitsdienst (SD, "Intelligence Service »), He was attached in 1940 to the intervention group of the security police (Sipo-SD) and sent to the Netherlands, which Germany had just invaded. In The Hague, he tracks down German political refugees and Jews.

In November 1942, Klaus Barbie was assigned to Lyon and placed at the head of the Gestapo with the mission of "anti-communist, anti-sabotage and anti-Jewish struggle". Mercilessly repressing local resistance, he was notably responsible for the death of Jean Moulin and the liquidation of several groups of guerrillas in the Rhône-Alpes region. Other feats of arms of this zealous executioner, the roundup of the children of Izieu and the deportation of many Jews to Auschwitz.After the war and although officially wanted by the Allied authorities as a war criminal, Barbie will lead a brilliant career . His experience in counterinsurgency techniques and his knowledge of communist networks, in particular earned him employment in the US Army's counterintelligence services. France, which demands his extradition, cannot therefore obtain success.

From the run to the trial

In the early 1950s, Barbie in trouble with the German police left to settle in South America (Argentina, Bolivia, Peru). There he continues to render services to the American secret services, but also to local regimes while carrying out arms trafficking activities. Using a false identity "Klaus Altmann", protected by the Bolivian dictatorship (of which he would be an agent of the secret services), he was nevertheless denounced in the eyes of the world by the Klarsfeld spouses. After many twists and turns, he was finally extradited to France in 1983.

His trial (recorded and then broadcast on television) which will begin 4 years later, despite the inspired defense of his lawyers including Jacques Vergès, will be an opportunity to shed light on the tragic events of 1943-1944. He refused to appear at his trial in Lyon which opened on May 11, 1987. The three major cases retained by the investigation concern the roundup of the General Union of Israelites of France on February 9, 1943, the roundup of the children of 'Izieu on April 6, 1944 and the last convoy of 600 people deported to Auschwitz on August 11, 1944, less than fifteen days before the liberation of the city. Found guilty of crimes against humanity, he will be sentenced to life imprisonment. He died in 1991, carried away by cancer.

For further

- Klaus Barbie, code name Adler, by Peter Hammerschmidt. The Arena, 2016.

- The Barbie trial: Lyon - May 11 to July 4, 1987 - 6 DVDs. Arte Editions, 2011.


Video: Who Was The Klaus Barbie? Second World War. Momentous Happenings. Episode 09