A former commander of Hitler's dreaded SS has been discovered living in Minnesota since 1949, the AP is reporting.
A top commander of a Nazi SS-led unit accused of burning villages filled with women and children lied to American immigration officials to get into the United States and has been living in Minnesota since shortly after World War II, according to evidence uncovered by The Associated Press.
Michael Karkoc, 94, told American authorities in 1949 that he had performed no military service during World War II, concealing his work as an officer and founding member of the SS-led Ukrainian Self Defense Legion and later as an officer in the SS Galician Division, according to records obtained by the AP through a Freedom of Information Act request. The Galician Division and a Ukrainian nationalist organization he served in were both on a secret American government blacklist of organizations whose members were forbidden from entering the United States at the time.
Though records do not show that Karkoc had a direct hand in war crimes, statements from men in his unit and other documentation confirm the Ukrainian company he commanded massacred civilians, and suggest that Karkoc was at the scene of these atrocities as the company leader. Nazi SS files say he and his unit were also involved in the 1944 Warsaw Uprising, in which the Nazis brutally suppressed a Polish rebellion against German occupation.
The U.S. Department of Justice has used lies about wartime service made in immigration papers to deport dozens of suspected Nazi war criminals. The evidence of Karkoc's wartime activities uncovered by AP has 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.
At 94, Karkoc might escape justice by pleading poor health. Germany might forgo extradition for trial in favor of US deportation, but I imagine the Israelis might be interested in prosecuting him if he was indeed involved in supressing the Warsaw ghetto uprising. Unfortunately, there are few living witnesses, which makes trying Karkoc for war crimes difficult.
In a few years, there won't be any of war criminals left. But prosecuting Karkoc for his crimes would send a message to the rest of them that the world will pursue them to the grave in ordert to bring them to justice.