Klaus Barbie is considered the most important former Nazi who became a public figure and who established himself in South America where continued his unrepentant criminal activities in close alliance with other Nazis and government officials. The Devil's Agent, a new book by Peter McFarren and Fadrique Iglesias, reveals a startling inner and detailed portrait of this horrific figure known as the Butcher of Lyon using previously unpublished letters written from Barbie's cell in Lyon, France, documents released since the removal of the Berlin Wall confirming his work as a U.S. and West German spy and over a hundred photographs of his family, business associates and Nazi friends.
This 624-page book also details Barbie's family history, the role he played as a Gestapo officer in German-occupied France, his responsibility for the murders of more than 14,000 Jews and French Resistance fighters during the Nazi Holocaust, his flight from Europe after the war with the backing of the U.S. Government, the Vatican and the International Red Cross, and his settlement in Bolivia with his wife Regine and two children.
His nefarious past exemplifies "Collective and Personal Evil" that is also addressed in this book. How the book is different: The most recent books on Barbie are over twenty years old, and do not reveal his work with U.S. and German intelligence in South America. The Devil's Agent goes deep into Barbie's life in Bolivia and relays information that has never been written about or mentioned before, as some of his closest allies and friends have just recently exposed some of his darkest secrets.
During 1942-1944, Klaus Barbie was a mid-level Nazi officer in charge of the Gestapo HQ in Lyon, France. His treatment of prisoners ranged from banal indifference to pleasure as he sadistically tortured and murdered his victims. After the war, what set him apart was the public role he played as an unscrupulous businessman and adviser to military rulers, and Western intelligence agencies, in close alliance with other escaped Nazis, while living in Bolivia. The unrepentant war criminal was the most important Nazi to continue operating as a public figure after World War II.
In Bolivia, Barbie trafficked in tanks and weapons and supported the hunt for the Argentine-Cuban guerrilla leader "Che" Guevara. He collaborated with cocaine trafficking kingpin Roberto Suárez Gómez, authoritarian right-wing military governments and a network of escaped Nazis, paramilitaries and mercenaries from Europe and South America to overthrow a Bolivian
civilian government in 1980.
The Devils Agent describes co-author Peter McFarren's personal encounters with Klaus
Barbie in 1981, when McFarren and his colleague Maribel Schumacher were arrested in front of the Nazi's Bolivian home after trying to interview him for a story for The New York Times. McFarren obtained hundreds of Barbie's personal photographs and letters from prison that have never been made public before. Beyond their historical significance, these shine a light into Barbie's compartmentalized inner life: devoted husband, torturer, loving father, spy, adaptive businessman, anti-Semite, opportunist. Combined with extensive use of the wealth of historical materials released in the decades since the fall of the Berlin Wall, the authors connect the inner Barbie with his times to provide insight into how collective evil occurs. From crimes against humanity to Holocausts, it happens step by banal step.
McFarren also worked on the documentaries Hotel Terminus: The Life and Times of Klaus Barbie and My Enemy's Enemy and wrote numerous articles about Barbie and the military regimes he supported.
After an extensive, decades-long search by Nazi hunters Beate and Serge Klarsfeld, Barbie was identified, captured and extradited to France. He was one o