THE NAZI LEGACY: Klaus Barbie and the International Fascist Connection by Neal; Isabel Hilton & Magnus Linklater Ascherson
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THE NAZI LEGACY: Klaus Barbie and the International Fascist Connection

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KIRKUS REVIEW

Most of the attention paid to Barbie, ""The Butcher of Lyon,"" has gone to his career as jack-booted Nazi thug, the torturer who persecuted Jews and killed Resistance hero Jean Moulin. This trio of British journalists--Ascherson is senior foreign correspondent of the London Observer, Linklater is the Observer's managing editor, Hilton is Latin American correspondent for the Sunday Times--takes Barbie's story much further, even beyond his postwar work for US intelligence. Though all that is masterfully covered, the story's main interest lies in the focus of the second half: Barbie's Bolivian sojourn. After he got to Bolivia (under the auspices of US intelligence, working through right-wing Croatian Catholic priest, Dr. Krunoslav Draganovic), Barbie joined a German community of long-time residents and new Nazi immigrants. He started a wood business and assumed the persona of a cultivated businessman. But it wasn't long before Barbie (known as Klaus Altmann, the name of the murdered chief Rabbi of his home town of Trier) began to cash in on his wartime expertise. He made contacts with other Nazi transplants in Lima and Buenos Aires, forming a group that would later sell anticommunist intelligence techniques to the governments of Bolivia, Peru, and Argentina. But first he got involved in currency smuggling, arms sales, and cocaine trading. He also got himself installed in the Bolivian Army as an antiterrorist adviser and teacher of torture techniques. One of the major stories here is Barbie's role in the Bolivian coup d'etat of 1980, which overthrew an elected government and installed a group of generals who were prospering in the cocaine trade. The coup itself was accompanied by murders of political and trade union opponents, carried out by hooded death squads. Chiefly responsible were two of Barbie's associates, the Italian right-wing terrorists Stefano della Chiaie and Pierluigi Pagliai, who were eventually charged with the terrorist bombing of the Bologna railway station in 1980. Della Chiaie was the ideologue of the group, intent upon founding a new fascist order in Bolivia. For his part, Pagliai was a sadist who makes Barbie almost shrink in stature: during a ""seminar"" on antisubversion methods, Pagliai actually killed two people while demonstrating torture techniques. He was a central figure in the Bolivian death squads (manned primarily by Italians and Argentines) and was later killed in an attempted kidnapping by Bolivian and Italian authorities. With all these cross-connections, the authors have written a new page in the story of international terrorism, and this time one that includes states as well as individuals. Della Chiaie himself is a link between Italian neo-Fascism, the assassination of Orlando Letelier (della Chiaie worked for Pinochet's Chilean secret police, DINA), the Argentine ""Dirty War,"" and Roberto D'Aubuisson, who has tried to apply in El Salvador what he learned from meetings with della Chiaie. It's a sleazy story but an important one.

Pub Date: Jan. 1st, 1984
Publisher: Holt, Rinehart & Winston