PARIS (May. 19)
Nazi war criminal Klaus Barbie claimed today that French police and the German army — not the gestapo — rounded up Jews in Lyon during World War II and deported them to death camps in Eastern Europe.
Barbie was questioned for the first time this morning by Christian Riss, the French magistrate assigned to the case after Bolivia handed Barbie over to French authorities 3 1/2 months ago. Barbie also denied charges that he had personally supervised the shipment of Jews from the Lyon railway station.
Barbie served from 1943 until the final months of the German occupation as gestapo deputy commander for the Lyon area. He is accused of having carried out mass deportations of Jews and resistance fighters. Known as the “butcher of Lyon, “he has been charged on five counts of “crimes against humanity” alleged to have been carried out during the years he served in Lyon.
Barbie was taken from his cell at the high security Saint Joseph Prison early today to Montluc Fort which had been one of the main gestapo detention centers during the war. A former Jewish deportee, an elderly woman whose identity was not released, re-enacted her own deportation. She showed Magisstate Riss her former cell and said that on August II, 1944 she saw Barbie personally supervise the deportation of shipment of Jews from Lyon to Auschwitz.
Barbie, who watched the re-enactment and heard the woman’s testimony told the judge that he was not present. He claimed that the round-up of Jews and the deportations were carried out be units of the German army and not by members of the gestapo who, he said, were busy fighting the French resistance and preventing sabotage operations.