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New Evidence Proves 94-year-old Minnesota Man Has Nazi Past

The Associated Press reveals that Michael Karkoc was a top commander of a Nazi SS unit

By: Daniel Koren
Published: June 14th, 2013 in News » World
Michael Karkoc

According to evidence uncovered by The Associated Press, a top commander of a Nazi SS-led unit – who was accused of burning villages filled with innocent women and children – has been living among us in Minnesota.

Upon his arrival in the U.S. on April 14th, 1949, Michael Karkoc told American authorities that he had never served, in any capacity, under the German military and had no involvement whatsoever with the Nazi Party.

In this background check, Karkoc told investigators that he worked for his father until 1944, and at a labor camp until 1945.

As the new evidence, obtained by the Associated Press through a Freedom of Information Act request, denotes, however, Karkoc had worked as an SS Officer during the war and was a founding member of the SS-led Ukrainian Self Defense Legion.

He was later promoted as an officer in the SS Galician Divison, which was on a secret American government blacklist of organizations whose members were prohibited from entering the U.S.

Official records do not show that Karkoc was involved in any war crimes, though statements from men in his unit and other documentation suggest that he had a hand in his unit’s massacring of innocent citizens, and that he was present as these atrocities were taking place. Nazi SS files also dictate that Karkoc and his unit were involved in the 1944 Warsaw Uprising, in which the Nazis brutally extinguished Poland’s attempt to rebel against the German occupation.

Following the release of the AP-acquired evidence, Polish prosecutors announced they will conduct a thorough investigation into Karkoc’s past, and will provide ‘every possible assistance’ to the U.S. Department of Justice. The evidence has also prompted German authorities to begin an investigation of their own and explore if there is just cause to prosecute the 94-year-old. In Germany, Nazis can be charged with war crimes even if their direct involvement in said crimes cannot be proven.

Efraim Zuroff, lead Nazi hunter at the Simon Wiesenthal Center in Jerusalem, says that this new evidence should be enough to prosecute Karkoc and send him back to Poland, most likely, as most of his unit’s alleged crimes were carried out there. “In America this is a relatively easy case: If he was the commander of a unit that carried out atrocities, that’s a no brainer,” Zuroff said.

Thomas Will, the current Deputy Head of a German agency that investigates Nazi war crimes, added that there was no evidence to suggest Karkoc had ever been investigated in Germany. Thanks to the new AP-discovered evidence, however, he is currently able to gather information that could result in Karkoc’s prosecution.

According to memoirs obtained by the Polish government, Krakoc had joined the German army after the Nazis invaded the Soviet Union in 1941, and fought on the Eastern Front in Ukraine where he was awarded with an Iron Cross, a Nazi award for bravery.

Following the war, Karkoc’s wife died in 1948, a year before he and their two sons emigrated to the U.S. After arriving in Minneapolis, he remarried and had four more children.

Karkoc, who continues to reside in northeast Minneapolis, has refused to discuss his wartime past with reporters, journalists and concerned citizens alike. Repeated attempts to interview the man have been unsuccessful.

Related articles: Michael Karkoc, Nazi, SS, The Associated Press, Poland, World War II
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