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Klarsfeld Accuses U.S. of Protecting Barbie While Employing Him As an Agent After World War Ii

February 8, 1983
See Original Daily Bulletin From This Date

Serge Klarsfeld, the Nazi-hunter who was the first to locate Klaus Barbie in Bolivia in 1971, said today that the former Gestapo chief had been an American agent in the immediate post-war years.

In an interview with Le Monde, Klarsfeld charged the U.S. with having protected “the butcher of Lyon” and of having turned down repeated French requests that he be handed over to French justice.

Klarsfeld said Barbie apparently joined the American secret service in Dortmund where the American forces found him. He served in the anti-Soviet section and was also used, according to Klarsfeld, in an operation connected with Rumania.

The French, according to the Le Monde interview, even failed to obtain Barbie to come as a witness to France. The American officers who protected him, Klarsfeld charged, refused to let him go unless the French undertook to return him to the American zone in Germany immediately after the case.

The Americans also turned down an official French diplomatic demarche in 1950 in Washington. The State Department told the French Ambassador that the American occupation forces could “no longer locate” Barbie.

The former deputy head of the Lyon Gestapo was returned to France Saturday and is detained in the same prison where he held thousands of French resistance fighters and Jews. The French Ministry of Justice announced that he is held in a cell similar to that in which French resistance leader, Jean Moulin, whom Barbie is accused of having murdered was held until his death.


Meanwhile, seven Jewish families today filed civil suit against Barbie whom they accuse of having deported members of their families. Among the seven are the two mothers of five Jewish children who were deported on Barbie’s orders to Auschwitz and to their deaths. The five were part of a group of 41 children aged 3-13 whom Barbie ordered arrested and deported. Helen Benguigi last three of her children, and Myrian Hallaumbrenner two. Both are represented by Klarsfeld who is a member of the French bar.

Barbie asked investigating magistrate Christian Riss yesterday to appoint a defense counsel. As practically all French attorneys contacted have refused to undertake his defense, the President of the Lyon Bar Association, Etienne De La Servette, decided to do so himself. “It was necessary to ensure a normal defense procedure such as existed in all democratic countries,” De La Servette said.

Barbie is charged with crimes against humanity, the only offense covered by the statue of limitations. The charge sheet will concentrate on his anti-Jewish activities. Legal experts say that his arrests, tortures and executions of resistance fighters fall under the heading of “war crimes” which are covered by a 20 year time limit.

By a strange paradox of history, the Governor of the military prison where Barbie is held is himself a Jew. Yesterday he said “I am responsible for him and I shall fill my duty without hatred or desire for revenged. He is just one of my prisoners, part of the job.”

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