World War 2 Stories for Sheffield

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

Early life and education
Klaus Barbie was born in Godesberg, later renamed Bad Godesberg, which is today part of Bonn. The Barbie family came from Merzig, in the Saar near the French border. His patrilineal ancestors were likely a French Catholic family named Barbier who had left France at the time of the French Revolution.
In 1914, his father Nickolaus Barbie was drafted to fight in World War I. He returned an angry, bitter man. Wounded in the neck at Verdun and captured by the French, whom he hated, he never recovered his health. He became an alcoholic and abused his children. He was later diagnosed with cancer of blood, spine and prostate.
Until 1923 when he was 10, Barbie, a shy and quiet youth, went to the local school where his father taught. Afterward, he attended a boarding school in Trier and was relieved to be away from his abusive father. In 1925, the entire Barbie family moved to Trier.
In June 1933, Barbie's younger brother Kurt died at the age of eighteen of chronic illness. Later that year, their father died. The death of his father derailed plans for the 20-year-old Barbie to study theology or otherwise become an academic, as his peers had expected. He was passably intelligent without being brilliant, and reasonably popular without being considered a leader. While unemployed, Barbie was drafted into the Nazi labour service, the Reichsarbeitsdienst.
On 26 September 1935 at the age of 22, Barbie joined the Sicherheitsdienst (SD), the special security branch service of the SS {Nr. 272 284}, which acted as the intelligence-gathering arm of the National Socialist Party. On 1 May 1937 he joined the Nazi Party {Nr. 4 583 085}. In April 1939, Barbie became engaged to Regina Margaretta Willms, a 23-year-old daughter of a postal clerk.

World War II
After the National Socialist conquest and occupation of the Netherlands, Barbie was assigned to Amsterdam. In 1942, after the fall of France, he was sent to Dijon in the Occupied Zone. In November of the same year, at the age of 29, he was assigned to Lyon as the head of the local Gestapo.
He established his headquarters at the Hôtel Terminus in Lyon. Evidence suggests that he personally tortured prisoners: men, women, and children alike, by breaking extremities, using electroshock, and sexually abusing them, including with dogs, among other methods. He became known as the "Butcher of Lyon".
Historians estimate that Barbie was directly responsible for the deaths of up to 14,000 people. He arrested Jean Moulin, one of the highest-ranking members of the French Resistance and his most prominent enemy figure.
In April 1944, Barbie ordered the deportation to Auschwitz of a group of 44 Jewish children from an orphanage at Izieu. After his operations in Lyon, he rejoined the SIPO-SD of Lyon in Bruyeres-in-Vosges, where he led an anti-partisan attack in Rehaupal in September 1944.
US intelligence and Bolivia
After the war had ended, he was recruited by the Western Allies and worked for the British until 1947. After that, in 1947, Barbie was recruited as an agent for the 66th Detachment of the U.S. Army Counter Intelligence Corps (CIC). In 1951, he fled to Juan Peron's Argentina with the help of a ratline organized by U.S. intelligence services and the Croatian Roman Catholic priest Krunoslav Draganović. When asked by Barbie why he helped such escapes, Draganović said, "We have to maintain a sort of moral reserve on which we can draw in the future."
Barbie emigrated to Bolivia, where he lived under the alias Klaus Altmann. Testimony of the Italian insurgent Stefano Delle Chiaie before the Italian Parliamentary Commission on Terrorism suggests that Barbie took part in the "Cocaine Coup" of Luis García Meza Tejada, when the regime forced its way to power in Bolivia in 1980.
In 1965 Barbie was recruited by the West German foreign intelligence agency Bundesnachrichtendienst (BND) under the codename "Adler" (Eagle) and the registration number V-43118. He had excellent relations with high-ranking Bolivian officials and was known for his nationalist and anti-communist stance. His initial monthly salary of 500 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, Barbie made at least 35 reports to the BND headquarters in Pullach.

Che Guevara

Reviews of the 2007 documentary My Enemy's Enemy, directed by the British director Kevin Macdonald, note that it suggests Barbie helped the United States' CIA orchestrate the 1967 capture and execution in Bolivia of Che Guevara, a Marxist revolutionary who was active in Cuba and South America. In 1966 a disguised Guevara had arrived in Bolivia to organize the overthrow of its military dictatorship. According to the film, the CIA used Barbie for his knowledge of counter-guerrilla warfare.
Alvaro de Castro, a longtime confidant of Barbie, was interviewed for the film. He reportedly said:
"He (Barbie) met Major Shelton, the commander of the unit from the US. (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."
De Castro adds that Barbie "had little respect for Che Guevara." In the film, the journalist Kai Hermann says, "He (Barbie) always boasted – though I cannot prove it – that it was he who devised the strategy for murdering Che Guevara."
Extradition and trial
Barbie was identified as living in Bolivia in 1971 by the Klarsfelds (Nazi hunters from France). On 19 January 1983, the newly elected government of Hernán Siles Zuazo arrested Barbie and extradited him to France to stand trial.
In 1984, Barbie was indicted for crimes committed while he directed the Gestapo in Lyon between 1942 and 1944. The jury trial started on 11 May 1987, in Lyon, before the Rhône Cour d'assises. Unusually, the court allowed the trial to be filmed because of its historical value. A special court room with seating for an audience of about 700 was constructed. The head prosecutor was Pierre Truche.
At the trial Barbie was supported by financier François Genoud, and defended by the lawyer Jacques Vergès. Barbie was tried on 41 separate counts of crimes against humanity, based on the depositions of 730 Jews and resistance figures, who cited his torture practices and murders. The father of the then-French Minister for Justice, Robert Badinter, had died in Auschwitz after being deported from Lyon during Barbie's tenure.
Barbie gave his name as Klaus Altmann (the name he had used while in Bolivia). Claiming that his extradition was technically illegal, he asked to be excused from the trial and returned to his cell at St Paul prison. This was granted. He was brought back to court on 26 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 historic French colonial empire. His strategy was to use the trial to expose war crimes committed by France since 1945. The prosecution dropped some of the charges against Barbie due to French legislation that had protected people accused of crimes under the Vichy regime and in French Algeria. Vergès 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 said, "When I stand before the throne of God I shall be judged innocent".
On 4 July 1987, Barbie was convicted and sentenced to life imprisonment. He died in prison in Lyon of leukemia four years later, at the age of 77.

Klaus Barbie: women testify of torture at his hands

from the Saturday, March 23, 1987 issue of The Philadelphia Inquirer

LYON, France--In 1944, when she was 13, Simone Lagrange testified yesterday, Klaus Barbie gave her a smile as thin as a knife blade, then hit her in the face as he cuddled a cat at the Gestapo headquarters in Lyon.

Lise Lesevre, 86, said Barbie tortured her for nine days in 1944, beating her, nearly drowning her in a bathtub and finally breaking one of her vertebrae with a spiked ball.

Ennat Leger, now 92, said Barbie "had the eyes of a monster. He was savage. My God, he was savage! It was unimaginable. He broke my teeth, he pulled my hair back. He put a bottle in my mouth and pushed it until the lips split from the pressure."

The three women were among seven people who took the witness stand yesterday to testify against Barbie, the former head of the Gestapo in [Paris] during the Nazi occupation of France in World War II.

Barbie, 73, is on trial in Lyon, accused of torturing Jews and members of the French Resistance and deporting them to Nazi death camps.

But he did not hear their testimony because he has refused to attend the courtroom sessions since the second day of the trial, as he may do under French law.

He has, however, denied the accusations against him and has contended that his 1983 extradition from Bolivia to France was illegal.

Several of the seven witnesses yesterday sobbed as they told of arrest, torture, rail convoys to the Drancy collection center near Paris and on to concentration camps.

They depicted Barbie as a harsh, sadistic officer ready to resort to any cruelty to extract information.

Lagrange, her voice breaking, recalled the arrest of her father, mother and herself on June 6, 1944, the day Allied troops landed in Normandy to drive back the Germans.

Denounced by a French neighbor as Jews and Resistance fighters, Lagrange and her parents were taken to Gestapo headquarters where a man, dressed in gray and caressing a cat, said Simone was pretty.

"I was a little girl, and wasn't afraid of him, with his little cat. And he didn't look like the typical tall, blond SS officer we were told to beware of," she said.

The man, whom she identified as Barbie, asked her terrified parents for the addresses of their two younger children.

"When we said we did not know, he pulled my hair, hit me, the first time in my life I was slapped," she said.

During the following week, the man hauled her out of a prison cell each day, beating and punching at her open wounds in an effort to obtain the information.

"He always came with his thin smile like a knife blade," she said. "Then he smashed my face. That lasted seven days."

Later that month, Simone and her mother were put aboard a sealed train for the Auschwitz concentration camp on a horror ride "which turned us into different people" and that still gave her nightmares 40 years later.

From Auschwitz, where her mother was gassed, the inmates were marched to Ravensbruck, where only 2,000 of the 25,000 people who began the march arrived alive. On the way, Simone saw her father marching in another convoy.

"A German officer told me to embrace him. As we were about to meet, they shot him in the head," she said. "It wasn't Barbie who pulled the trigger, but it was him who sent us there."

Ennat Leger, who lost her sight at Ravensbruck after her arrest, was hoisted to the witness stand in her wheelchair by four policemen.

She was a Resistance fighter nearly 50 years old when she was arrested in 1944, she said, and Barbie and his men "were savages, brutal savages, who struck, struck and struck again."

"Have you heard of the Gestapo kitchens?," she quoted him as saying, in an allusion to the torture chambers.

Lise Lesevre, frail and upright despite her 86 years, described the defendant as "Barbie the savage," saying she recognized him decades later because of his "pale eyes, extraordinarily mobile, like those of an animal in a cage."

Lesevre, who belonged to a resistance group, said the Gestapo arrested her on March 13, 1944, while she was carrying a letter intended for a Resistance leader code-named Didier.

She said Barbie spent almost three weeks trying to learn if Lesevre was Didier, and if not, who was. She was interrogated for 19 days, she said, and tortured on nine of them.

First she was hung up by hand cuffs with spikes inside them and beaten with a rubber bar by Barbie and his men. "Who is Didier, where is Didier?" were Barbie's main questions, she said.

Next was the bathtub torture. She said she was ordered to strip naked and get into a tub filled with freezing water. Her legs were tied to a bar across the tub and Barbie yanked a chain attached to the bar to pull her underwater.

"During the bathtub torture, in the presence of Barbie, I wanted to drink to drown myself quickly. But I wasn't able to do it. I didn't say anything.

"After 19 days of interrogation, they put me in a cell. They would carry by the bodies of tortured people. With the point of a boot, Barbie would turn their heads to look at their faces, and if he saw someone he believed to be a Jew, he would crush it with his heel," she said.

"It was a beast, not a man," she said. "It was terror. He took pleasure in it."

During her last interrogation, she said, Barbie ordered her to lie flat on a chair and struck her on the back with a spiked ball attached to a chain. It broke a vertebrae, and she still suffers.

"He told me, 'I admire you, but in the end everybody talks.'" But she never did, and she heard Barbie say finally, "Liquidate her. I don't want to see her anymore."

She was condemned to death by a German military tribunal for "terrorism" but was placed in the wrong cell and deported to Ravensbruck concentration camp, where she survived the war. Her husband and son did not. She said they were both deported to their deaths by Barbie.

Lesevre said she identified Barbie in February in a face-to-face confrontation at St. Joseph Prison, where he is being held.