WHY MY FATHER DIED by Annette Kahn


A Daughter Confronts Her Family's Past at the Trial of Klaus Barbie
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 A piercing historical and personal record of the wartime crimes and 1987 trial of the Gestapo's ``Butcher of Lyon.'' France's most significant war-crimes trial since the Forties is covered here by the head of the political desk for the French magazine Le Point--who also happens to be the daughter of one of the victims of the notorious Klaus Barbie. Skillfully interspersing present-tense accounts of the Lyon trial with narration of her own parents' ordeal, Kahn charges up both halves of this legal/family saga. We read firsthand testimony about Barbie personally breaking limbs, throwing a baby away from a mother's arms, loosing vicious dogs on prisoners, forcing a woman to have sex with a dog, torturing children in front of parents, and sending many thousands to brutal executions on meat hooks or slow deaths in extermination camps. As Gestapo chief of occupied Lyon and environs, Barbie consistently drew upon his sadistic imagination to ferret out information on members of the resistance and Jews. Kahn's father was guilty of both associations, while her Christian mother couldn't get a baptismal certificate from her unforgiving priest. The author's details of her father's underground activity, capture, and execution match her research on Barbie, exposing his family's anti-French background and his trial lawyer's ties to Mideast terrorism. Kahn's precise and personal portraits of victim and victimizer humanize the overbearing phrase ``crimes against humanity.''

Pub Date: July 1st, 1991
ISBN: 0-671-65883-2
Page count: 224pp
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15th, 1991