Nazi Commander Found Living in Minnesota

AP tracks down SS veteran Michael Karkoc, whose unit massacred civilians

By Kevin Spak,  Newser Staff

Posted Jun 14, 2013 6:55 AM CDT | Updated Jun 14, 2013 7:51 AM CDT

(Newser) – The AP has uncovered evidence that the commander of a Nazi SS unit has been living for decades in Minnesota, having lied about his wartime experience to immigration officials. Michael Karkoc, 94, led a unit accused of burning Ukrainian villages and slaughtering the civilians within, including women and children. And while records don't indicate that Karkoc personally committed any war crimes, statements from other men in the unit indicate he was at the scene at the time. Karkoc was also a founding member of the SS-led Ukrainian Self Defense Legion—a fact that the AP discovered he revealed in a Ukrainian-language memoir published in 1995. It notes it's unclear why Karkoc felt safe publishing his memoir, which is available at the US Library of Congress.

Lying to immigration officials has been enough to get ex-Nazis deported in the past, and experts say that's what's likely to happen to Karkoc, too. Germany is now exploring whether it can prosecute him, as well. Karkoc refused to give an interview, but when the AP showed up at his modest house in Minneapolis, he answered the door, walking without a cane or walker despite his age. Asked to comment about his Nazi past he said, simply, "I don't think I can explain." (The AP notes it was first tipped off to Karkoc's potential presence in Minnesota by a retired clinical pharmacologist who took up Nazi war crimes research in his free time.) The full piece shares many more details on the documents on Karkoc the AP was able to access.

In this May 22, 1990 photo, Michael Karkoc, photographed in Lauderdale, Minn. prior to a visit to Minnesota from Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev in early June of 1990.   (AP Photo/The St. Paul Pioneer Press, Chris Polydoroff)
The photo taken June 3, 2013 in Chicago shows the oath of allegiance on Michael Karkoc's petition for naturalization obtained from the U.S. National Archives in Illinois. Karkoc was a top commander in...   (AP Photo/M. Spencer Green)
A monument pays tribute to civilians who were burned alive during WWII in Pidhaitsi, Ukraine. Evidence uncovered by AP indicates that Michael Karkoc's unit was in the area at the time of the massacre.   (AP Photo/Efrem Lukatsky)
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