LONG STORY SHORT
By L. Dean Webb
KLAUS BARBIE AND THE UNITED STATES GOVERNMENT
SECTION I: KLAUS BARBIE
This report describes the relationship between Klaus Barbie and the United States government. That relationship began in April 1947, but this report cannot begin there. To draw intelligent and informed judgments on the history of Barbie's use by American authorities, one must have answers to two lines of questions. First, who was Klaus Barbie, and what did he do during the war? Second, what did the Americans who recruited and used Barbie after the war know about him and his record? What could they have known form the resources that were available to them?
The answers to these questions are important because the controversy that has developed over public allegations of U. S. involvement with Barbie has been based on the assumption that Barbie was "the butcher of Lyon," a man responsible for crimes against humanity: the deaths and deportations of hundreds, perhaps thousands, of Jews and other innocent victims of Nazi persecution, this controversy has also assumed that those who dealt with Barbie after the war must have known that he was a butcher. (The derivation of "butcher of Lyon" is unclear. It does not appear in any of the materials examined in this investigation.) Barbie himself has maintained that he was the head of the SS counter-resistance operation in Lyon, attempting to ferret out and neutralize sabotage directed against the German occupation.
As this section demonstrates, Barbie was the head of the Gestapo in Lyon; considering the responsibilities of the SS detachment in Lyon in 1942-1944, this role could be consistent with persecution, counter-resistance operation, or both. This investigation has not attempted to establish Barbie's guilt or innocence of crimes against humanity, which are the subject of criminal charges in France. It has endeavored to establish, as far as possible, what American officers who recruited and used Barbie over a period of time knew or should have known about him at the time he was recruited, and also as time went by. The answers to these questions are important because the actions of American officers, to be judged fairly, must be judged according to what they knew or ought to have known about the man they were dealing with.
In this respect, as in others, this investigation has not relied on assumptions but has sought evidence. This section discusses Klaus Barbie's wartime career and what could have been known about it in the period of his use after the war.
B. Early Career
Klaus Barbie was born on October 25, 1913 in Godesberg in the Rhineland. In 1933, Hitler became chancellor of Germany and Barbie joined the Hitler Youth, the beginning of an unbroken involvement with the Nazi movement.
Beginning in February 1935, Barbie served as personal adjutant to the head of the local Nazi party office in Trier. It was at this time, according to his handwritten autobiography in his SS personnel file, that Barbie began to work with the Sicherheitsdienst (literally, security service), the Nazi Party intelligence and espionage agency. (BDC: Barbie's Personnel File: Lebenslauf, 14.II.40.)
The Sicherheitsdienst, or SD, was established in 1931 with Reinhard Heydrich at its head. It was an arm of the SS [Schutzstaffel], an organization that began as the personal cadre of Adolf Hitler and grew into a complex and powerful network of death camps, armed divisions, intelligence services and mobile slaughter commandos. The SD's general responsibility was combating enemies of the State, but was best described in a speech given by the leader of the SS, Reichsfuehrer-SS Heinrich Himmler in January 1937:
The primary SD fields of activity are communism, political activity by religious persuasions, and reaction. The SD is not, however, concerned with detailed executive problems. The SD is concerned only with major ideological questions. As a Security Service we are interested in this sort of thing: what major plans has the Comintern in the years to come, in which country does it propose to make an effort, what Bolshevist influences can be detected in Freemason circles abroad, which way do the threads run and whither are the major emissaries going? Then again we are interested in the economic influence which the Jews are acquiring (again only in the overall plan in general) in order to strangle us, sabotage us or manipulate the currency. All these questions the SD studies scientifically. (Quoted in Krausnick, Helmut, et. al., The Anatomy of the SS State (London, 1968))
Barbie officially joined the SS and SD on September 26, 1935 and was assigned to the SD Hauptamt (Main Office) until October 1936, when he was transferred to the SD Oberabschnitt (Region) West in Duesseldorf as a Referent (specialist). (BDC: Barbie's Personnel File: Lebenslauf.) His specific duties during this period are not known, but he performed them to the expressed satisfaction of his superiors. On Barbie's marriage petition, filed in March 1939, his commander described him as "one of the best Referents" in the organization. (BDC: Barbie's Personnel File: Marriage Petition.) By April 20, 1939, Barbie had achieved the non-commissioned rank of Oberscharfuehrer. In October 1939, as the result of a reorganization, he was assigned to the SD Abschnitt (district) Dortmund, still as a Referent, and in this assignment, Barbie officially remained for the rest of his career, although he was detailed to other authorities. (BDC: Barbie's Personnel File: Lebenslauf.)
On April 20, 1940, Klaus Barbie was promoted to Untersturmfuehrer (SS 2nd Lieutenant). According to his promotion papers, (BDC: Barbie's Personnel File: Promotion Recommendation, 9.III.40.) he was serving at this time as Referent for Section II/123 in the SD Abschnitt Dortmund; these sections dealt with "Liberalism and Pacifism" and " Rightist Movements" respectively. Barbie's duties in the position would have been to gather intelligence on the individuals and organizations in these categories by, among other things, organizing and maintaining a network of agents and informants.
On May 10, 1940, the Germans launched a massive, coordinated land and air assault on the west. By May 15, Holland fell; Klaus Barbie was assigned there May 29. Barbie's personnel file gives no explicit indication of his activity in Holland; but his official assignment as of October was an assistant Referent (Hilfsreferent) in Subsection III C ("Culture"), whose responsibility was to report any anti-Nazi tendency in the area of science, education, religion, sports, entertainment, and propaganda to the appropriate executive agency. (For organization of Section III, see NARS, T175/275/277318ff.)
He performed well and was promoted in November 1940 to the rank of Obersturmfuehrer (SS 1st Lieutenant). His commander stated that Barbie was "especially hardworking and responsible"; that he had dedicated himself in Holland " completely and intensively to SD work"; that his performance was "excellent"; and that his "SS bearing on duty and off was irreproachable."
Barbie's section was part of a new office that resulted from a reorganization of the police and intelligence apparatus in September 1939. the Security Police, comprising the Gestapo (secret police) and the criminal police, was joined with the SD into one centralized organization designated the Reichsicherheitshauptamt (RSHA) (Reich Security Main Office), headed by Reinhard Heydrich. The organization of the RSHA and the constantly shifting relationships between the Gestapo, the criminal police and the SD were almost incomprehensible in the complexity, (For a full discussion, see Hilberg, Raul, The Destruction of the European Jews (New York, 1961); Hohne, Heinz, The Order of the Death's Head (London, 1972); Sydnor, Charles W., Jr., Soldiers of Destruction (Princeton, 1977).) but for present purposes one can focus on Roman numerals: in the RSHA, sections III (domestic intelligence) and VI (foreign intelligence) made up the operational elements of the SD, and sections IV (Gestapo) and V (criminal police) made up the Security Police.
Section IV (Gestapo) of the RSHA, together with its many subordinate offices in the field, was an executive agency: it exercised its duty in actions. Section VI (foreign intelligence, SD), on the other hand, was involved in gathering information: it was the eyes and ears to Section IV's hand and teeth. The question of whether Barbie was in Section IV or Section VI, or both, would be the subject of conflicting information in the post-war years.
Barbie's personnel file does not specify how long he remained in Holland, although a letter in the file indicates that he was still there in July 1941. (BDC: Barbie's Personnel File: Barbie to SS Personnel Office, dated Amsterdam, 4.VII.41.) Nor does it describe what happened to Barbie after he left Holland, but a promotion recommendation from November 1944 reviews Barbie's career and indicates an assignment in Belgium, ("Since May 1940, Barbie has been deployed abroad (Holland, Belgium, France)." BDC: Barbie's Personnel File: Promotion Recommendation, September 1944.) which probably took place sometime between July 1941 and May 1942, the date that Barbie appears to have assigned to France.
C. Barbie in France
The German strike that crushed Holland in less than a week continued westward and in less that six weeks defeated the French army and drove the British expeditionary force off the continent at Dunkirk. On June 20,1940 the Germans captured Lyon, and two days later the defeated French signed as armistice that divided the country into two zones: the north, occupied by the Germans, and the south (including Lyon), administered by a French collaborationist government at Vichy.
In November 1942, however, the southern zone was occupied by the Germans after the successful Allied invasion of North Africa. With the occupation of the south, the Security Police and the SD formed a comprehensive network of offices to solidify German authority throughout France. These detachments were organized along the same lines, and their sections carried the same numerical designation, as other Security Police and SD offices, including the headquarters in Paris and the RSHA in Berlin.
According to his personnel file, and consistent with his career to that point, Barbie was assigned to Lyon as chief of Section VI, Intelligence. Yet, even before the end of the war, the French were gathering evidence that Barbie was chief of Section IV, the Gestapo.
D. Sources of Information
To understand this dichotomy, it is necessary to appreciate the sources of information that were (and are) available to post-war investigators. Apart from answering the question concerning Barbie's position, the sources are important because, from them, we can learn what information was available at any given time concerning that position.
Three main sources of evidence can be used to anaylize Barbie's career: his SS personnel file, captured wartime operational records, and evidence developed immediately after the war by the French.
1. The Personnel File
Barbie's personnel file, which was obtained form the Berlin Document Center (BDC), (The Berlin Document Center-which since 1953 has been part of the United States Mission, Berlin - is a repository for all personnel and related records of the Nazi party, the SS, and affiliated organization. Many of these records were hastily consigned to pulp mills by the Germans in the last days of the war, but were salvaged by advancing Allied forces.) is significant not only for what it tells us about Barbie's career, but also for the fact that it was available after the war to those who decided to employ Barbie. What it tells us, it could have told them. It has, of course, the limitations of any personnel file: it is all bones and no flesh, and perhaps not all of the bones at that.
For SS officers, in particular, a large number of personnel files survived. These range from a few stray scraps of paper to massive dossiers numbering several hundred pages. Barbie's file is more than one hundred pages, covering his career in the SS beginning in 1935 and ending in 1944. It includes a genealogy, notices of his promotions and awards, performance appraisals, pay records, and other routine personnel documents.
2. Operational Records
The fate of documents created and maintained by German authorities during World War II varied. Many were captured but the remainder, a number impossible to estimate, were destroyed by the Germans, or by acts of war. The files of the SS and police authorities in Lyon were almost entirely destroyed in the allied bombings of Lyon in May of 1944, or in a systematic destruction by the Germans that summer. Exhaustive searches in archives and repositories throughout the world by private scholars, professional investigators, and government researchers have yielded only a handful of Lyon SS documents. Thus, the best potential source on Klaus Barbie's wartime activities - the files of his office with their reports, orders, organizational charts, and duty rosters - has been completely lost to post-war investigators.
3. Postwar Evidence
No sooner had the Germans left Lyon in August 1944 than the French began to investigate the crimes that were committed there. That same month, the French submitted a statement of charges to the United Nations War Crimes Commission (UNWCC) against "Barbier" and his subordinates in the Gestapo: (U.N. Archives: UNWCC Charge Files 192/FR/G/40 adn 184/FR/G/42.) "murder and massacres, systematic terrorism, and execution of hostages," among others. The initial charges were followed by others through January 1948.
In addition to filing charges with the UNWCC, France created permanent Military Tribunals in major cities, including Lyon, to investigate war crimes and to locate and prosecute war criminals. Through these tribunals, significant evidence was gathered on the history, operation, and personnel of the Gestapo and SD in Lyon.
As early as February 1945, a lengthy report to the Lyon Tribunal on the "German Special Services in the Lyon Region" gave a history of the Security Police and SD in Lyon and a breakdown of its personnel. Barbie figures prominently as chief of Section IV and deputy to the commander of the Lyon SS. Based on the report and other investigations, the tribunal issued arrest warrants for "Barbier" and others in September 1945. (Lyon: Ordre D'informer, 2 Aug 45, Requisitoire Introductif, 3 Aug 45, and Mandat D'Arret, 12 Sep 45.)
A number of former Lyon Security Police and SD personnel were arrested, in some cases extradited, and brought to Lyon to stand trial. The interrogations of those tried by the French offer a valuable source on the history and organization of the SS in Lyon, and have served to clarify Barbie's position there.
Another investigation, conducted by the Military tribunal in Paris, has also shed light on Lyon and Klaus Barbie. In 1947 and again in 1950, Rene Hardy, a former French Resistance leader, was tried for treason, charged with betraying his organization and helping the Germans arrest several key Resistance figures, including Jean Moulin, a Resistance hero and personal representative of De Gaulle in France. The man who arrested Moulin and the man with whom Hardy allegedly collaborated was Klaus Barbie. In the investigation into the Hardy affair, Barbie's position and activity received a great deal of attention, and figure prominently in the events described in this report.
In the following discussion, piecing together what is known on Barbie's activities in Lyon, the sources described above each play a distinct part.
E. Barbie in Lyon, 1942-1943
Barbie's arrival in Lyon in November 1942 coincided with a dramatic increase in the ranks of the Resistance. The imposition of the Service du Travail Obligatoire (Forced Labor Service) in the fall of 1942 presented a challenge to Frenchmen, offering a choice between being forced to work for the German war effort and joining the increasing number of resisters to disrupt it. In January 1943, the union of the three principal non-communist resistance groups in the south was announced, under the leadership of Jean Moulin. Combat, Liberation, and Franc-Tireur joined to form the "Mouvements Unis de la Resistance" (MUR) and agreed to unite their paramilitary forces in the Armee Secrete (Secret Army - AS).
It was the responsibility of the combined Security Police and SD elements in Lyon to combat this burgeoning resistance movement. These elements were formed into an "Einsatzkommando" (EK) in late 1942. The EK's first commander served for a very short period before being transferred to Marseille in January 1943.
His replacement was Hauptsturmfuehrer (SS Captain) Heinz Hollert. Klaus Barbie, in turn, became Hollert's deputy, while heading a section at the same time. This is established not through any formal record, but rather by the way Barbie signed one of the few documents bearing his signature that have survived. Several letters and one telegram reporting an action taken against a committee to assist emigrant and dispossessed Jews were signed by Barbie "in Vertretung" or "i.V" - a formal indication that he was signing for the commander as his deputy. (See "Organization of the Office of the Commander of the SIPO and SD in Marseille, 3.VII.44, NARS: T175/483/9342680-683 for regulations governing signature authority: "The permanent deputy signs with the addition, 'in Vertretung.'")
In the summer of 1943, Hollert was replaced as commander by Werner Knab, who had been transferred to Lyon from the Gestapo in Kiev. Hollert became Knab's deputy, and Barbie moved down to third in command. But Hollert was killed in the May 1944 bombing of SS Headquarters, and Barbie returned to the deputy slot under Knab.
At some point Barbie became the head of Section IV, Gestapo, in Lyon. This transfer is not reflected in his BDC file; we cannot date it and the written documents that survive are ambiguous. For example, there are copies of documents signed by Barbie that deal with Section IV matters but these he signed in his capacity as deputy of the entire EK, and not necessarily as Section IV chief.
And when Hollert took over as deputy, Barbie could no longer sign for the commander as deputy. German regulations allowed another category of signature - one executed "im Auftrag." A document signed "im Auftrag" or "i.A." is signed by order of the commander by someone - other than the deputy - who has signature authority. Normally, signature authority is granted to the ranking official responsible for the subject matter of the document to be signed. We have a document, dated December 28, 1943, addressed to Section IVB (which handled "Jewish Affairs") of the Commander of the Security Police and SD (BdS) Paris, signed "im Auftrag" by Barbie. Under normal circumstances, Barbie's signature on this document could be interpreted to mean that he was head of Section IV - the appropriate official with signature authority for a document concerned with Section IV matters. There are other explanations for his signing this document, however; for example, he could have been the only ranking person on duty at headquarters when the letter went out. (Another document signed "im Auftrag" by Barbie is the famous April 6, 1944 telegram reporting the deportation of the 41 children from a children's home in Iszieu. The telegram, like the December letter, was directed to Section IVB in Paris. This document was submitted by the French as exhibit RF-1235 at Nuremburg.)
But whatever ambiguities exist in interpreting the arcane signature regulations are made moot by the postwar evidence collected by the French from witnesses who certainly knew the Lyon hierarchy. The former Security Police and SD commander in Paris, Helmut Knochen, identified Barbie as being in Section IV in Lyon. (Lyon: Hardy: PV Knochen 1 Apr 48.) Harry Stengritt, former member of Section VI in Lyon identified Barbie as head of Section IV. (Lyon: Hardy: PV Stengritt, 28 Jul 48.) Alfred Luetjens, a member of Section IV, identified Barbie as his boss, Section IV chief. (Lyon: Hardy, PV Luetjens, 26 Apr 48.) Ernst Floreck, who was also a member of Section IV, identified Barbie as Section IV chief and also offered a piece of indirect evidence that Barbie was not head of Section VI - SD foreign intelligence - throughout his service in Lyon. According to Floreck, Section VI was headquartered on the Boulevard des Belges in Lyon, separate from the rest of the EK. (Lyon: Hardy: PV Floreck, 23 Nov 48.) Barbie's' office was at the EK headquarters.
Beyond this kind of indirect evidence, Barbie admitted in 1948 to having been the head of the Gestapo in Lyon and may even have supplied the answer to when he was assigned to that section. In his interrogations by the French in July 1948 (see Section IIE of this report), he dates his arrival in France as May of 1942, and claims to have been assigned to Section VI in Gex on the Swiss Border and later to Section IV in Lyon. (Lyon: Hardy: PV Barbie, 16 Jul 48.) In an earlier interrogation in May, he claims to have joined the Stapostelle (State Police Office, i.e., Gestapo) in Lyon in 1943. (Lyon: Hardy: PV Barbie, 14 May 48.) It is possible, therefore, that he arrived in Lyon in November as head of Section VI and transferred after a short period, perhaps early 1943 to Section IV, the Gestapo.
It is unlikely that anyone would make such an admission unless it were true. The question of Barbie's position in Lyon appears, then to have been answered conclusively by possibly the best witness - Barbie himself. This admission, moreover, has been supported by the testimony of his wartime superiors, subordinates, and victims in statements taken by the French in war crimes investigations after the war.
F. Barbie in Lyon, 1943-1944
The difficulty of combating the resistance in Lyon cannot be overestimated. As the German military began to lose ground, the ranks of the resistance grew. Despite this, Barbie could boast of considerable success. In a short period in the summer of 1943, he was responsible, in part, for the arrest of General Delestraint, the commander of the Armee Secrete, and of Jean Moulin, the head of the Resistance, as well as of actions in Lyon in the summer of 1943 that the MUR decided to move to Paris, which it considered safer than Lyon. Barbie's' effectiveness was also noted and recognized by his superiors; he received a number of decorations and acknowledgements during his service in Lyon, including a letter from the head of the SS, Heinrich Himmler, praising Barbie's "special achievements in the field of criminology and untiring efforts in combating a resistance organization." (This letter is noted in a September 1943 issue of the SS Befehlsblatt, an official publication that reported, among other things, personnel changes and the award of decorations within the SIPO and SD.) Barbie's promotion to Hauptstufrmfuehrer (SS Captain) came in November 1944. The recommendation for it noted his "exceptional talent for intelligence and criminology" and gave him credit for eliminating numerous enemy organizations. (BDC: Barbie's Personnel File: Promotion Recommendation, 9,IX.44.)
By that time, however, the Allies were driving through France and the Germans were pushed out of Lyon. Little is known about Barbie's assignments between the time he left Lyon and the end of the war ten months later.
As far as the first question posed in this section - who was Barbie and what did he do - the following facts may be stated with reasonable certainty:
1. After a series of assignments in the intelligence field for the SD, Barbie was assigned to Lyon as head of Section VI, the intelligence branch of the Einsatzkommando, an amalgam of elements from the Security Police (Gestapo and criminal police) and the SD.
2. At some point, and for some period of time between November 1942 and the summer of 1944, Barbie served both as deputy and number three man of the EK.
3. At some point, and for some period of time, Barbie also was the head of Section IV, the Gestapo.
4. Barbie's responsibilities with the EK as a whole included counter-resistance operations: infiltrating the French resistance, headquartered in Lyon; gathering information on its members and operations; and disrupting those operations and neutralizing (turning or arresting) its members to the maximum extent possible.
As to the second question - what could post-war investigators have known or be expected to know - the following points must be kept in mind:
1. Barbie's personnel file contains no mention of assignments to Section IV (Gestapo); taken by itself it outlines the career of an intelligence officer in Section VI, the foreign intelligence section of the SD.
2. The evidence regarding Barbie's activities in Section IV, the actions of the EK in Lyon, and the role of the EK in anti-resistance actions and persecution, was gathered by French authorities from late 1944 through 1948. This evidence is largely in the form of affidavits from Lyon residents and resistance fighters gathered in preparation for war crimes trials to be held by permanent military tribunals in Lyon and Paris.
H. The Listing of Barbie in CROWCASS
As the war drew to a close in the spring of 1945, the Supreme Headquarters, Allied Expeditionary Force (SHAEF) composed a central register of war criminal suspects wanted by he allied nations. This Central Registry of War Criminals and Security Suspects - universally known as "CROWCASS" - grew quickly. The first list, published in July 1945, contained 70,000 names, including that of "Barbier" (no first name was listed) whom the French had listed under two numerical codes as wanted for "murder (of civilians)" and "torture (of military personnel)." The list was distributed to all major echelons of the Allied occupation forces in Germany, including the United States Army Counter Intelligence Corps.
LONG STORY SHORT