WHEREVER THEY MAY BE
© 1972, The Beate Klarsfeld Foundation
 
 
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KLAUS BARBIE,
BUTCHER OF LYON

My confrontation with Klaus Barbie began on July 25, 1971. I was working at the CDJC to set up an operational chart on the German secret service in Occupied France. M. Mazor, the director of the library, leaned across a box of original Gestapo documents and handed me some papers he had just received, saying: "This will probably interest you."

They were photocopies of the decision Public Prosecutor Rabl had made in Munich on June 22, 1971, disposing of the Barbie case. By July 25, that decision had still not been made public.

Thanks to a procedural maneuver, the Association of German Victims of Nazism had managed, on June 23, 1960, to have an investigation opened on Klaus Barbie for the crimes he had committed in France. As I scanned the ten pages that explained why the Bavarian court had ended the public investigation of the "Butcher of Lyon," that had begun over ten years before, I became aware of the shocking consequences of closing the case. Those ten pages, written in a dry, pedantic style, served to rehabilitate – through Barbie – all the Nazi criminals who had operated in France. The Lyon tribunal, in fact, had twice sentenced Barbie to death in absentia, first on May 16, 1947, and again on November 25, 1954.

The importance of the Barbie case is its indication of what is likely to lie ahead for other Gestapo chiefs who were also tried in
     
   
 
WHEREVER THEY MAY BE
© 1972, The Beate Klarsfeld Foundation
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