Ex-SS Officer Charged in Germany
STUTTGART, Germany (AP) _ An 82-year-old former Waffen SS officer has been charged with killing seven Jewish concentration camp prisoners in 1945, German prosecutors said Monday.
Julius Viel, a retired journalist arrested last October, is accused of shooting the prisoners as they dug anti-tank trenches near the Czech town of Leitmeritz. They were inmates from the Theresienstadt concentration camp in what is now the Czech Republic.
The charges were filed with the Baden-Wuerttemberg state court in Ravensburg, said Sabine Maylaender, a spokeswoman for state prosecutors in Stuttgart. No trial date has been set.
Viel was arrested Oct. 6 at his home in a village near Wangen, close to the Austrian border. He has denied any involvement and insists that he was not in the region at the time.
But Maylaender said evidence prosecutors have gathered indicates Viel took pleasure in killing and that he shot the inmates with little provocation.
Prosecutors say Viel, a former Waffen SS lieutenant, was an instructor at an officers school in Leitmeritz at the time of the killings in the spring of 1945. The charges are based in part on information from a Canadian university professor, Adalbert Lallier, who was a 17-year-old member of Viel’s military unit at the time. Lallier originally provided the information to Nazi hunter Steven Rambam.
Maylaender said investigators have identified 900 potential witnesses in Germany and Austria and have taken statements from 300 of them.
Viel worked for newspapers in the southwestern German state of Baden-Wuerttemberg for many years. He was awarded a federal medal for public service in 1983 for newspaper columns that encouraged hiking.