AJW Staff Report
Newly discovered evidence supports allegations that an elderly man living in Minneapolis for the past 60 years was involved in a war crime during World War II.
A German prosecutor has recommended that murder charges be brought against Michael Karkoc, 94, a retired carpenter living in northeast Minneapolis, who he says is a former commander of the Nazi SS.
Thomas Will, the deputy head of the special prosecutor’s office that investigates Nazi crimes, believes that Karkoc ordered his unit to attack a Polish village in 1944. The village was razed and dozens of adults and children were killed, according to the Associated Press (AP).
An AP independent investigation last summer found that Karkoc was in the area at the time of the massacres, but could not link him directly to the attack.
But according to an AP report on Nov. 18, a newly discovered file on the investigation unearthed in the Ukrainian intelligence agency’s archive included testimony from a private under Karkoc’s command, Ukrainian Pvt. Ivan Sharko, who said in 1968 that Karkoc had ordered the assault.
Karkoc entered the United States in 1949, and he did not disclose his position as a commander in the Ukrainian Self Defense Legion, which was led by the SS, on his application for citizenship, the AP reported.
Will’s office cannot file charges, but the prosecutor told AP that he will ask Germany’s Federal Criminal Court this week to determine which state prosecutor should get the case. The new prosecutor would review the evidence and decide whether to charge Karkoc and if Germany has jurisdiction.
Steve Hunegs, executive director of the Jewish Community Relations Council of Minnesota and the Dakotas (JCRC), said this week that his agency “is appalled… that an alleged Nazi war criminal living in Minneapolis ‘ordered his men to attack a Polish village that was razed to the ground,’” according to the AP report.
“This newly uncovered report underscores the importance and necessity of investigating the alleged Nazi war criminal living in Minneapolis,” Hunegs added, in a statement sent to the AJW. “Because there is neither a statute of limitations on lying to immigration officials about being a Nazi war criminal or for murder, the JCRC is continuing our request of the United States Department of Justice to investigate the claims made in the Associated Press report, and if proven true, to open a civil deportation hearing so that the alleged Nazi war criminal living in Minneapolis can finally face some measure of justice for his crimes against humanity.
Hunegs said, “Words fail to express how outraged we are to know that an alleged former Nazi SS commander accused of the murder of Polish Christian civilians could be hiding in plain sight in a community which is also the home of so many Holocaust survivors and their liberators in the United States armed forces.”
(JTA contributed to this report.)
(American Jewish World 11.22.13)