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Allegations of a U.s.-barbie Connection to Be Investigated by the Department of Justice

March 16, 1983
See Original Daily Bulletin From This Date

The Justice Department, reversing an earlier position, announced yesterday that it will conduct “a comprehensive investigation” into allegations that Nazi war criminal Klaus Barbie, now in custody in France, was employed by U.S. government agencies after World War II and helped by them to escape from Europe.

The Department’s announcement said it viewed the allegations “with deep concern” and that a study of government files indicated a full scale investigation was “warranted.” The Department, earlier, had refused to go into the case despite mounting evidence of the U.S. intelligence community’s involvement with the former gestapo chief in Lyon, France.

The Justice Department’s reversal, reportedly under strong pressure from Congress and the White House, came just one month after the Jewish Telegraphic Agency published the first of an exclusive three-part series of articles by Charles Allen, Jr., an internationally prominent authority on surviving Nazi war criminals, exposing the clandestine U.S. involvement with Barbie.


Allen wrote, in the February 16 JTA Daily News Bulletin that Barbie “was aided in his escape from Europe in late 1949 and early 1950 by the Vatican, the U.S. Army’s Counter Intelligence Corps (CIC) and the International Red Cross.” He said he obtained his information “from various documents, including the State Department’s” which detailed “Barbie’s movements since his first utilization by the CIC in 1947 until his expulsion from Bolivia 36 years later.”

Allen said his findings were corroborated by Dr. Erhard Dabringhaus, a faculty member at Wayne State University in Detroit, who told NBC-TV News and the Detroit Free Press only a week earlier that Barbie had been secretly employed as an informer by the CIC in 1948 and was paid the then substantial sum of $1,700 a month. Dabringhaus, now 65, served as Barbie’s “case officer” with the CIC in 1948.

In the third part of his series for the JTA, published February 18, Allen wrote that “During the same period he (Barbie) contracted work with the CIA” and acted “at the strategic direction of a post-World War II SS underground, Die Spinne (The Spider)” as a “consultant” to right-wing Latin American military dictatorships supported by the U.S.


Barbie’s involvement with the CIA was confirmed by Nazi-hunter Serge Klarsfeld who charged, in an article in the Paris daily Le Monde of February 15, that the CIA not only employed Barbie as a special agent but enabled him to flee to Latin America by granting him a “temporary travel document” registered under the name of Klaus Altmann, the name under which he illegally obtained Bolivian citizenship in 1952.

According to Klarsfeld, the CIA document enabled Barbie to obtain an International Red Cross pass in Genoa. Although twice sentenced to death in absentia by French courts for the deportation of French Jews and the murder of French resistance leader Jean Moulin, Barbie apparently visited the United States on more than one occasion after his escape from Europe without interference from U.S. authorities.

Reports that he visited New Orleans and Miami under the alias Klaus Altmann were said to be supported by U.S. Immigration Service documents. Last November II, one Robert Wilson, a self-admitted international jewel thief told ABC-TV News that he knew Barbie in Bolivia and that the Nazi “freely confessed” his war crimes and his involvement with the CIA.

According to Wilson, Barbie claimed he visited New Orleans and San Francisco in the course of his work for the CIA, travelling on a Bolivian diplomatic passport. The CIA refused to comment at the time.


The JTA reported on March 8 that nine Congressmen wrote to President Reagan urging him to initiate a special investigation of charges that the U.S. government protected Nazi war criminals after World War II, Barbie in particular. The letter, drafted by Rep. William Lehman (D. Fla.) and signed by seven Democrats and two Republican Congressmen, followed publication of the allegations by the JTA and the other disclosures.

Attorney General William French Smith reportedly was reluctant to enter the case but changed his mind after receiving a “message” from William Clark, the President’s National Security Adviser. The Justice Department’s initial position was said to be based on the belief that no prosecution was likely to result from an investigation of events of nearly 40 years ago.

Justice Department sources said the investigation probably would be conducted by Allan Ryan Jr., head of the Department’s Office of Special Investigations (OSI). Ryan has been responsible for the successful prosecution of Nazi war criminals living in the U.S. resulting, in several cases, of revocation of citizenship and the initiation of deportation proceedings.

Barbie, who was turned over to French authorities last month after his expulsion from Bolivia, is awaiting trial in Lyon on charges of “crimes against humanity.”

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