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Response to Judi Lynn (Original post)

Mon Apr 30, 2018, 06:15 PM

1. THE BUTCHER OF BOLIVIA

THE BUTCHER OF BOLIVIA

04 Nov, 2012 | Laetitia Grevers

History & Politics

After WWII, the infamous Nazi Klaus Barbie found sanctuary in Bolivia, where he influenced national politics, helped overthrow a democratic government, and profited from the drug trade

Again, the topic of the Nazis’, says Nicolas Bauer, the president of Club Aleman, in an impatient voice. He lights another cigarette. ‘Well, what else could I have expected from someone who wants to write about German immigrants?’ For Bauer, it is difficult to say which of the Germans was not a Nazi before the end of World War II. Many Germans who immigrated before 1945 came to spread the Nazi way of life in Bolivia discreetly – several also came after 1945. In particular, many German teachers immigrated during the 1930s and 1940s and spread the National Socialist ideology. Ironically, many German Jews also immigrated to Bolivia during and after the war.

After the war, several ex-Nazis escaped to South America and Bolivia via ‘ratlines’, the notorious escape routes for Axis war criminals that were organized by members of the Catholic Church. US intelligence agencies also assisted, using the fugitives as assets during the Cold War. Among the most notorious was Klaus Barbie, the former chief of the Gestapo in Lyon. Barbie, the ‘Butcher of Lyon’, tortured French Resistance leader Jean Moulin to death during the war, and was the man responsible for the deportation of 44 Jewish orphans to Auschwitz and their subsequent deaths. ‘I came to kill’ was the first thing he said upon reaching France. In Bolivia, Barbie became a tireless hustler and eccentric, wheeling and dealing with the German business community, politicians, and arms and drug traffickers. He held court in the Club La Paz near Plaza San Francisco, where former Nazis would meet with him to discuss old times.

During his stay in Bolivia, Barbie (who went by the name of Altmann) worked for the Department of the Interior as a lieutenant colonel and as an instructor for the Bolivian security forces, teaching them the finer points of torture and ‘disappearance’ of political dissidents. Together with Hans Stellfeld, another ex-Nazi officer, Barbie was instrumental in the ascendance of General Luis Garcia Meza Tejada, who took over the country as a dictator after a coup d’état in 1980. Called the ‘Cocaine Coup’, this takeover was financed through deals with wealthy cocaine producers in Santa Cruz, who gave kickbacks to Garcia Meza; Barbie was responsible for eliminating rival drug lords through his paramilitary group ‘the Fiancés of Death’.

In 1983, after the restoration of the civilian government in Bolivia, Barbie was finally arrested and extradited to France. He was condemned to life in jail and died there in 1991. His surviving family lives in Germany still. His Nazi comrades do not. They are still at home in Bolivian society. And they do not want to hear about the past.

More:
http://www.bolivianexpress.org/blog/posts/the-butcher-of-bolivia

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