Barbie Faces Nazi War Crimes Charges (Chronology of European History)
Article abstract: Klaus Barbie faces Nazi war crimes charges and is prosecuted by the French government, affirming the legacy of the Nuremberg trials and the importance of collective memory about the Holocaust.
Summary of Event
On January 29, 1983, more than a decade after the Nazi hunters Beate and Serge Klarsfeld first located him in La Paz, Bolivia, a business man named Klaus Altmann was arrested on suspicion of being the war criminal Klaus Barbie. Between November, 1942, and August, 1944, Barbie, a second lieutenant in the SS (Schutzstaffel or protective rank), had headed the Section Four unit of the Gestapo-SD (Sicherheitsdienst or security police) forces in Lyons, then a city of seven hundred thousand residents. As an intelligence officer investigating “political crimes,” Barbie had pursued the Nazi agenda with a ruthlessness that earned him the nickname “Butcher of Lyons.” Unable to track Barbie down after his return to Germany in 1944, France twice tried him for war crimes in absentia; both times—1952 and 1954—the court sentenced him to death for his role in at least four thousand murders and eight thousand deportations to the concentration camps. By the time the Klarsfelds discovered him in La Paz in 1972, Barbie already faced no danger from these distant judgments. Not only had the statute of limitations lapsed on his war crimes after twenty years but also capital punishment had...
(The entire section is 1468 words.)
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Barbie Is Tried for Nazi War Crimes (Great Events from History II: Human Rights Series)
Article abstract: Klaus Barbie, head of the Gestapo in Lyon, France, during World War II, was extradited to France, where he was tried and convicted of crimes against humanity.
Summary of Event
Early in World War II, German armies overran northern France, forcing the government of Marshal Henri Philippe Petain to sign an armistice pact with the Nazi regime. Under this armistice, northern and western France remained under German military occupation, while Petain’s government, relocated from Paris to Vichy, would observe military neutrality in the war but would retain authority over the southeastern part of the country. In 1942, in response to Allied army successes in North Africa, German and Italian forces swept southward through Vichy France, eventually bringing the entire national territory under Nazi occupation.
Wherever German armies consolidated their control, the official agencies of the German government and of the Nazi Party quickly set up operations. The most notorious of these were the black-shirted “defense echelon,” or Schutzstaffel (SS), and the infamous state secret police, or Gestapo. Klaus Barbie served as head of the Gestapo in the French city of Lyon from the date of the German invasion, November, 1942, through 1944. During this period, he was responsible for the deaths of some four thousand French citizens and the deportation of some seventy-five hundred others, including women and...
(The entire section is 2140 words.)