At first glance Chulimani is just another beautiful mountain town in the sub-tropical Yungas, however its past marks it out as something different. In 1943 the Germans sent a group of scientists here to establish cocaine production for the military hospitals in Europe. The cocaine from Chulimani was moved to Paraguay where it was picked up by U-boats and shipped to Europe.
Klaus Barbie , known as the ‘Butcher of Lyon’ was the SS officer in charge and his house in Chulumani was the site of the ‘Hotel Hamburg’ – a facade for this secret operation. After the war he and several other top nazi’s stayed in Chulimani to avoid the Nuremburg trials. Klaus Barbie, the Butcher of Lyon, changed his name to Klaus Altmann and made himself helpful to drug lords and dictators alike. He even had his own team of assassins called the Grooms of Death. American intelligence officials actually helped Barbie to become established in Bolivia as part of their crusade against communism. During his time in Bolivia he was made a Colonel in the Bolivian Army, helped to set up Pablo Escobar’s drug cartel and was involved in the tracking down of Che Guevara.
When Bolivia finally returned to democracy in 1982 Barbie’s luck ran out and he was extradited to France where he died in prison in 1991.