This full-length documentary deals with the life, career and trial of Nazi SS officer Klaus Barbie, known as the Butcher of Lyons. Virtually all aspects of his life are covered. His childhood and schooling in Germany; his early military career; his role in the head of intelligence in Lyons; his post-war employment by the US military; his life in Bolivia; his return to Europe; his trial and conviction. Interviewed are friends, enemies, associates, heroes and traitors.Written by
This is a riveting film from start to finish. Marcel Ophuls very personal and wry take on the unfolding horror of Nazi Klaus Barbie's long and unimpeded criminal career exerts a powerful hold. The movie exudes a weird, creepy humor throughout, beginning with its title, the actual name of the French hotel which was the location of Barbie's headquarters in Lyons. "Hotel Terminus" is filled with unforgettably bizarre, real life characters. The voices of Barbie's torture victims and pursuers are given equal time alongside those of his collaborators and defenders. This is an important movie. It stands as one of the best documentaries of the twentieth century and of all time. The film is as much or more about French history as well as American and German. The United States ugly,collaborative role in Barbie's eluding of justice for so many years is revealed in terms like "ratline". The ratline was a transportation corridor set up by the CIA to funnel Nazi war criminals safely out of Europe to South America. This operation functioned with the help of the Vatican.It was fueled by the turn of the political tide after World War Two when fear of Communist takeover took hold over Europe and the West, and the Nazis were seen as specialists in their ability to ferret out Communists. There are numerous subtitles throughout, especially in Part one, but these do not detract from the film's unstoppable momentum. Parts of this true story seem almost unbelievable. Hannah Arendt's observation and comment on the banality of evil is again and again underscored in Ophuls extraordinary film.
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