Today, holocaust survivors may feel one more very small measure of closure with the horrific sadness, pain and terror of a past that is forever a part of their daily lives.
To all outward appearance, Michael Karkoc, commander of a unit accused of murdered civilians during World War II is a pretty nice fellow: father, kindly neighbor, the old man down the block that always has a greeting for everyone. The accused Nazi baby killer hid his sins well. Karkoc obviously lied to US immigration officials about his military service to gain entry into the United States.
Hiding in Minnesota since shortly after the end of World War II, Michael Karkoc, 94, was a high ranking commander of a Nazi SS-led 115 man unit said to have murdered the innocent: burning villages filled with villagers trapped inside their homes.
In 1949, when Karkoc entered the United States he told authorities he had never performed any military service during the war. Wrong! Karkoc was in fact covering up his reprehensible past as a ranking officer and founding member of the infamous Ukrainian Self Defense Legion. That wasn’t the only black blotch on his lily-white soul.
Although records to date do not reveal the depth of Karkoc’s involvement in war crimes, they do confirm his presence at the massacre. Statements taken from the men of his unit and other substantiating documents seem to confirm Karkoc Ukrainian company slaughter helpless civilians: mainly the elder, women and children.
In evidenced, uncovered by The Associated Press (AP) and obtained through a Freedom of Information Act request, Karkoc has been secretly living in Minnesota since entering the country.
Nazi SS documents and testimony from members of his unit confirm Karkoc and his men were involved also in the atrocities in the 1944 Warsaw Uprising.
The AP report states, “Polish prosecutors announced Friday after the release of the AP investigation that they will investigate Karkoc and provide “every possible assistance” to the U.S. Department of Justice, which has used lies in immigration papers to deport dozens of suspected Nazi war criminals. The AP evidence of Karkoc’s wartime activities has also prompted German authorities to express interest in exploring whether there is enough to prosecute. In Germany, Nazis with “command responsibility” can be charged with war crimes even if their direct involvement in atrocities cannot be proven.”
A retired clinical pharmacologist, Stephen Ankier, based in London is credited with ferreting out the sadist Karkoc. Ankier who took up Nazi war crime research as a retirement past time ran across Korkoc when researching members of the SS Galician Division who emigrated to Britian. When an Internet search revealed an address for Karkoc, Ankier called the Associated Press.
Ankier stated, “Here was a chance to publicly confront a man who commanded a company alleged to be involved in the cruel murder of innocent people.”
The AP report said, AP “located Karkoc’s U.S. Army intelligence file, and got it declassified by the National Archives in Maryland through a FOIA request. The Army was responsible for processing visa applications after the war under the Displaced Persons Act.”
A lead story today on MSN reports, “Efraim Zuroff, the lead Nazi hunter at the Simon Wiesenthal Center in Jerusalem, said that based on his decades of experience pursuing Nazi war criminals, he expects that the evidence showing Karkoc lied to American officials and that his unit carried out atrocities is strong enough for deportation and war-crimes prosecution in Germany or Poland.”
“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 commented. “Even in Germany … if the guy was the commander of the unit, then even if they can’t show he personally pulled the trigger, he bears responsibility.”
The MSN piece further reports, “Ivan Katchanovski, a Ukrainian political scientist who has done extensive research on the Self Defense Legion, said its members have been careful to cultivate the myth that their service to Nazi Germany was solely a fight against
Soviet communism. But he said its actions — fighting partisans and reprisal attacks on civilians — tell a different story.Under the pretext of anti-partisan action they acted as a kind of police unit to suppress and kill or punish the local populations. This became their main mission,” said Katchanovski, who went to high school in Pidhaitsi and now teaches at the University of Ottawa in Canada. “There is evidence of clashes with Polish partisans, but most of their clashes were small, and their most visible actions were mass killings of civilians.”
When confronted by reporters at his home in Minneapolis, Karkoc shook his fist in anger, stauchly refusing to discuss his horrific history. Usin Karkoc’s son as an intermediary, AP extended repeated requests for an interview to allow Karkoc to tell his side of the story. All request were refused. “I don’t think I can explain,” Karkoc said.
By: Marlene Affeld
See more of the story. Watch this video from MSN:
Christian Science Monitor
Michael Karkoc, Minnesota Man, Was Top Commander Of Nazi SS-Led Unit: AP Report