The man now known to posterity as the Butcher of Lyons, Klaus Barbie was born in the German town of Bad Godesberg during the year 1913.
Like many of his contemporaries Barbie would go on to join the Hitler Youth, and he allowed himself to be completely indoctrinated by Nazi propaganda. As soon as he was old enough to do so he joined the SS, and after the fall of France in 1940 he was stationed there.
Klaus Barbie was an enthusiastic supporter of the Final Solution and actively had French Jews arrested and transported to the death camps in Germany and Poland, most notably Auschwitz. Between 1942 and its liberation in September 1944 over 4,000 people in Lyons were executed as a direct result of Barbie’s orders. He was renowned for using torture, ordering summary executions, and seemed particularly pleased to to have children killed.
Perhaps the most infamous incident was in April 1944 when 41 children were rounded up in Izzieu, and then transported east to their deaths. Barbie was able to escape from Europe to Bolivia although the French were determined to punish him. In 1983 a new Bolivian government extradited him to France, where he died in prison eight years later.
Castleden R (2005) The World’s Most Evil People – The Epitome of Evil, Time Warner Publications, London