Authorities allege that Michael Karkoc burned down Polish villages and ordered the slaughter of civilians.
Polish authorities will seek the extradition of a former Nazi commander who has been living in Minneapolis, Minnesota since the end of World War II.
According to the Associated Press, Polish prosecutors “100 percent” believe that 98-year-old Michael Karkoc burned down Polish villages and ordered the slaughter of civilians during World War II while leading a unit of the SS-connected Ukrainian Self Defense Legion.
“All the pieces of evidence interwoven together allow us to say the person who lives in the U.S. is Michael K., who commanded the Ukrainian Self Defense Legion which carried out the pacification of Polish villages in the Lublin region,” Polish Prosecutor Robert Janicki told the AP. “He is our suspect as of today.”
Karkoc’s family vehemently denies the allegations, with his son, Andriy Karkoc, calling them “scandalous and baseless slanders.”
“There’s nothing in the historical record that indicates my father had any role whatsoever in any type of war crime activity,” Andriy Karkoc told the AP. “My father’s identity has never been in question nor has it ever been hidden.”
Karkoc’s crimes came to light thanks in part to a 2013 AP investigation that pieced together wartime documents, testimony from men in Karkoc’s unit and Karkoc’s self-written memoir. The AP discovered that Karkoc lied to U.S. immigration officials to be able to enter the country following the end of the war.
According to the AP, the special German prosecutor’s office responsible for investigating Nazi war crimes found sufficient evidence to pursue legal action against Karkoc but decided against taking action after speaking to Karkoc’s doctor.
Michael Karkoc suffers from an advanced stage of Alzheimer’s disease. Regardless, if Polish authorities successfully extradite Karkoc and convict him of ordering his men to kill defenseless Polish villagers, he will spend the rest of his life in prison.
Next, have a look at the faces of the Nazi guards at the Auschwitz extermination camp as cataloged in a database recently made public by Poland. Then, see 44 Holocaust photos that reveal both the tragedy and perseverance of this horrifying episode.