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Julius Viel, 84; Former Nazi Officer Convicted of Murdering Jews

February 27, 2002

Julius Viel, 84, former Nazi SS commander convicted last year of murdering seven Jewish prisoners during World War II, died of lung cancer Monday in Baden-Wuerttemberg, Germany.

A court concluded in April 2001 that Viel shot inmates from the Theresienstadt concentration camp near Prague in Nazi-occupied Czechoslovakia in the spring of 1945 when he was a second lieutenant in the German special police.

Viel acted "out of lust for murder and base motives" and not on orders, the court in Ravensburg ruled.

Viel, who was sentenced to 12 years in prison, claimed that he had helped oversee a group of prisoners digging an anti-tank trap in the area but had not been there when the killings took place.

The retired journalist was tried only after a former Nazi officer trainee came forward to say he personally saw Viel seize a rifle and shoot the victims.

Viel, who was appealing his case, was released from prison earlier this month because of deteriorating health.

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