Montluc Prison is a former prison located in the 3rd arrondissement of Lyon, France.
During the occupation of France, it was known for being an internment, torture and execution site used by the Gestapo.
It was initially a military prison, opened in 1921 and used as such by the Vichy Regime between 1940 and 1943. After the invasion of the unoccupied zone of Vichy France in November 1942, it was requisitioned by the Nazis and used by the Gestapo as a prison and gateway to deportations and executions for prisoners from the entire region.
It is estimated that over 15,000 people including Jews, Resistance fighters and other citizens, like Sebastien Jean-Marie Sonnery who refused to kowtow to the occupying forces, were imprisoned in Montluc.
They were held in appalling unsanitary conditions, and those that did not die or who were among over 900 captives who were executed within the walls of Montluc were either sent to die in concentration camps or sent to Nazi work camps in Germany.
Profited from the chaos reigning in Lyon in the late summer of 1944, 950 prisoners were freed on the evening of 24th August 1944 when FFI French Troops, under the command of Colonel Pierre-Marie Köenig, who on the 1st June that year had been promoted to commander-in-chief of the FFI by General de Gaulle, entered the prison. Forty bodies were found.
” They entered the Fort in a stolen German Army car disguised as a Gestapo officer and persuaded the Prison’s Kommandant to liberate some of the prisoners, saying that the order had come from the Gestapo Commander in Lyon, Klaus Barbie.”
(The President of the Montluc Deportee Survivors Association, Georges Tassani)
Nikolaus Klaus Barbie was born on the 25 October 1913 in Bad Godesberg a small town next south of Bonn, Germany. He was infamous as the “Butcher of Lyon”.
Section IV, the Gestapo, was headed by Barbie, he divided his department into six sub-sections specialising in:
- The Resistance and Communist Groups
- The Jews
- False identity cards
- Counter –Intelligence
- Intelligence Archives
He not only gave orders for but participated in the torture, execution and deportation of many thousands of people.
Barbie tortured Raymond Aubrac who along Jean Moulin had been arrested in Caluire. Barbie tortured him with unbridled ferocity. Aubrac who survived the war recalled:
“Looking back, I sometimes even think that he wasn’t that interested in getting any information. Fundamentally he was a sadist who enjoyed causing pain and proving his power. He had an extraordinary capital for violence. Coshes, clubs and whips lay on his desk, and he used them a lot.
He escaped from Lyon with a few hundred soldiers and taking over 100 Jewish hostages from Montluc who he murdered before fleeing on a plane from Bron Airport.
He was finally caught in 1983 and imprisoned for life for crimes against humanity at his trial in Lyon. Klaus Barbie died in prison in Lyon in 1991 of cancer at the age of 78.