Friends and neighbors were stunned at revelations that an elderly suburban Minneapolis man was actually a wanted Nazi killer with ties to killings at the Warsaw Ghetto, the Associated Press reported.
Michael Karkoc, 94, had lived for decades without anyone suspecting his past in a murderous SS unit, the report claimed.
“I know him personally. We talk, laugh. He takes care of his yard and walks with his wife,” his next-door neighbor, Gordon Gnasdoskey, told the AP.
“For me, this is a shock. To come to this country and take advantage of its freedoms all of these years, it blows my mind,” added Gnasdoskey, the grandson of a Ukrainian immigrant himself.
Karkoc’s son, Andriy Karkos, accused the AP of defaming his father. Karkoc became a naturalized U.S. citizen in 1959.
“My father was never a Nazi,” said Karkos, who uses a different spelling for his last name. He also said the family wouldn’t comment further until it has obtained its own documents and reviewed witnesses and sources.
A man suspected of being a Ukrainian Nazi with links to murders during the Warsaw Uprising has been living in Minnesota for over 50 years.
The Associated Press reported Friday that Michael Karkoc, 94, entered the United States in 1949 after lying to immigration authorities that he had performed no military service during World War II. Karkoc was seeking to conceal his role as an officer and founding member of the SS-led Ukrainian Self Defence Legion and later as an officer in the SS Galician Division.
Nazi SS files say he and his unit were involved in suppressing the 1944 Warsaw Uprising, in which the Nazis brutally suppressed a rebellion against the German occupation, AP reported. The 1944 uprising is distinct from the 1943 ghetto uprising in the same city, which was mostly Jewish.
AP said Karcok’s Nazi past was documented in records it obtained through a Freedom of Information Act request and that Karkoc now lives in a modest house in northeast Minneapolis. Even at his advanced age, he came to the door without help of a cane or a walker. He would not comment on his wartime service for Nazi Germany.
Statements from men in his unit and other documentation confirm the Ukrainian company he commanded massacred civilians in Ukraine, AP reported, and suggest that Karkoc was at the scene of these atrocities as the company leader.
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.