NAIS Member Steve Rambam Investigation
Results In Murder Conviction

 

 On Tuesday, 03 April 2001, a German court found former S.S. 2nd Lt.
Julius Viel guilty of the mass murder of seven unarmed civilians.
(See: Associated Press wire story, below.)

For me, the guilty verdict announced by the Ravensburg court marked
the end of my involvement in a four year effort to see Viel brought
to justice. (See: Jerusalem Post story, below, and other stories
posted on Pallorium's website.) As a result of my involvement in the
investigation of Viel, new friends - and new enemies - appeared in
unexpected places. Once the conviction of Viel was announced, the
sleazy opportunists rushing to Ravensburg to falsely claim credit for
Viel's successful prosecution surprised even me.

This note is to thank all of you who fall into the "friends"
category, and especially those of you who helped with the
investigation and prosecution of Viel and who deserve much of the
credit for his conviction. It's rare that an Investigator can clear
seven "cold" murder cases at one time, and those of you that helped
with this investigation can share in the great moral and legal
victory announced in Ravensburg last Tuesday.

My thanks to Investigators and Special Agents Kelly R., Rolf W., Jean
S., Jean P. and David C., and the author K. F., who helped with the
investigation and/or agreed to be interrogated by German reporters.
Thanks also to the NAIS's Barbara and Ralph T. (They know why.) My
thanks also to the journalists J.T., S.S., A.F. - and even E.F. - who
helped keep this case in the public eye. Without their help, this
case might have never been prosecuted. My special thanks to my
colleagues and partners-in-crime, Investigators Joe S., Allon K. and
Jan T., who worked tirelessly on this investigation, and helped
resolve countless small and large issues. I am a lucky person to know
you all.

To "L.", the key witness against Viel, I can only say once again how
much I admire your courage, honor and integrity.

I am also especially grateful to those of you who assisted in my
efforts to balance running an Investigative Agency alongside
processing pro bono cases, and those of you who were understanding
during those times when I "dropped off the radar screen". I'll be
around, and reachable, quite a bit more from now on. Hopefully, you
will consider that to be a positive development.

We are in the process of closing fourteen (14) final war crimes
investigations - one in Germany, three in Canada and eleven in the
U.S. - and I hope that by the end of this year we will have more
successes to report.

Happy Passover and Happy Easter to everyone,

Steve Rambam.

 

Former Nazi Sentenced to 12 Years

By OLIVER SCHMALE
The Associated Press

 

RAVENSBURG, Germany (AP) - One of Germany's last Nazi suspects, a
former Nazi SS commander, was convicted Tuesday of killing seven
Jewish prisoners during World War II and sentenced to 12 years in
prison.

Julius Viel, a retired journalist, acted ``out of lust for murder and
base motives,'' presiding Judge Hermann Winkler said in announcing
the sentence. ``There was no order.''

``We owe it to the victims to compensate for the wrong,'' Winkler
said, as Viel sat impassively with about 100 onlookers crowded into
the courtroom.

Viel was put on trial four decades after German authorities first
investigated the case and dropped it. The case was revived when a
former subordinate provided new evidence.

Prosecutors had sought a life sentence, saying Viel shot the inmates
from the Theresienstadt concentration camp in Nazi-occupied
Czechoslovakia in the spring of 1945, when he was a second lieutenant
in the SS. Viel had bitterly contested the charges during his
four-month trial.

The seven inmates, imprisoned by the Gestapo, were forced to dig a
tank trap as defense against advancing Soviet forces. Viel confirmed
that he helped oversee the work, but testified he was not in the area
when the killings took place.

In his ruling, Winkler spoke of the ``terrible conditions'' under
which the prisoners were forced to dig, using their hands and
crockery. Some 180 prisoners died, he said.

In 1964, prosecutors had dropped an investigation of Viel over the
killings because of lack of evidence. Only in 1998 did the former
subordinate's testimony set in motion the reopening of the case and
Viel's arrest in the southern town of Wangen in October 1999.

Adalbert Lallier, a one-time Nazi officer trainee and now an
economics professor in Canada, testified he was standing guard when
Viel seized a rifle and shot the victims in cold blood.

Officials say Viel attempted suicide shortly after being jailed. When
the trial opened Dec. 4, he described Lallier's accusations as an
``incredible impertinence.''

Lallier said he had stayed silent for so long out of loyalty to his
fellow soldiers, but was persuaded to speak out by another former SS
officer.

Viel's defense attorney, Ingo Pfliegner, said he would appeal
Tuesday's verdict, citing contradictory evidence. Pfliegner had
argued that Lallier is trying to wipe clean his own Nazi past with
his accusations against Viel.

Still pending in Germany is a case against a former SS guard at
Theresienstadt. Anton Malloth, 88, is under investigation for
killings of Jewish prisoners between 1943 and 1945. Malloth has been
in custody since last May, awaiting trial.

The SS was the dreaded quasi-military unit of the Nazi party, which
was used as a special police force and committed some of the worst
crimes in territory under Nazi control during World War II. More than
6 million Jews were killed in the Holocaust.

The Ravensburg court cited the long interval between the crimes and
the trial in imposing a sentence short of the life imprisonment
sought by prosecutors.

But, Winkler insisted, ``every perpetrator should know that he can be
brought to account a long time later.''

AP-NY-04-03-01 1451EDT

 

"Canadian Fingers German For Murder"

The Jerusalem Post

November 29, 1999

A Canadian professor who had long hidden his past as a member of the
SS, and a private investigator who convinced him to testify against
his former commander, were the key players in opening hearings of
what could become the last Holocaust related murder trial held in
Germany.

Officials close to the case, however, fear that accused Nazi war
criminal Julius Viel may never face justice unless additional
witnesses in the case come forward during the next few months. That
was also the appraisal of private investigator Steven Rambam, the
Nazi hunter who was responsible for 'turning' a former SS inductee,
"L", and bringing him to testify before a German judge. L's testimony
lead directly to Viel's arrest last month for the murder of seven
Jewish inmates at the Theresienstadt concentration camp in
Czechoslovakia. Viel allegedly shot the seven during March, 1945,
while they were engaged in forced labor digging anti-tank trenches
near the town of Tereizn.

Sources report that German television's "Report Mainz" has identified
the murdered Jews as Ladislav Kras (born: 2.9.17), Wilhelm
Kaufmann(born: 9.9.15), Viktor Schulz (born: 1.7.02), Viktor
Stern(born: 18.9.11), Josua Baruch(born: 25.11.21), Vlastimil Severin
(born: 15.12.96) and Robert Friedmann (born: 5.11.99).

This is not the first time that Viel, now 81, has been accused of war
crimes. He had been tried in Germany in 1964, but charges were
dismissed when a key witness died shortly before the trial.
Suspicions about his murderous past did not stop Viel from becoming a
successful journalist for the 'Stuttgarter Zeitung'. Veil's
security began to unravel when an octogenarian former SS officer,
"L", now a college professor in Montreal, came forward out of a deep
sense of guilt, fully aware that he might be jeopardizing his own
status in Canada by admitting to the deportable offense of having
served in the Nazi SS. The professor was shaken out of his long
silence in 1997, following the massive publicity surrounding Rambam's
exposure of Nazi War criminals living in Canada (first reported in
the Jerusalem Post in December, 1996).

When Rambam and "L" met, the elderly professor was eager to admit
that he was a former SS officer with a story to tell. The former SS
man turned professor detailed how his former commanding officer had
picked up a rifle and randomly shot "six or seven Jews" as they were
digging an anti-tank ditch on the plains of Leitmeritz, near the
Tereisenstadt concentration camp.
Rambam found Viel, alive and well and a respected member of the
community in the German town of Wangen im Allgau.

Last month Rambam traveled to Germany to meet the German war crimes
prosecutor and to confront Julius Viel. When Rambam confronted Viel
regarding his activities at Theresienstadt, the suspected SS
commander denied any involvement. Yet, as he entered his car, Viel
said, "They tried before and failed. They will fail again.".

Two days after confronting Viel, Rambam met with Kurt Schrimm, the
war crimes prosecutor in Stuttgart. Viel was arrested and charged and
is being held without bail. No trial date has been set. but due to
Viel's advanced age, German prosecutors will try to schedule the
trial within a few months.

Meanwhile, Prosecutor Schrimm has already interviewed more than 300
potential witnesses and has an additional 500 scheduled. He is hoping
that he can produce an additional eyewitness, or survivor, who can
corroborate all or part of L's story.

"If we don't find at least one more witness", says Rambam, " Julius
Viel might walk away from the murders one last time."

 

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