Polish prosecutors announced Monday they will seek extradition of a U.S. citizen accused of being a Nazi unit commander during World War II.
Michael Karkoc, 98, arrived in the U.S. in 1949 and has been living in Minnesota since. He is accused of contributing to the deaths of 44 Poles.
Karkoc was an officer and founding member of the SS-led Ukrainian Self Defence Legion and an officer in the SS Galician Division, according to records obtained by the Associated Press. He allegedly withheld his military service during the war from U.S. immigration authorities.
The Galician Division was on a U.S. government blacklist and Karkoc would have been barred from entering the country if his real identity was revealed.
Prosecutor Robert Janicki told AP the evidence gathered confirmed “100 percent” that he was a commander in the Ukrainian 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,” Janicki said.
Karkoc’s son dismissed the accusations as “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 AP.
More than 300 Nazis have been deported, refused entry to the U.S. or lost their American passport since the U.S. Department of Justice created an office to deport Nazis in 1979, according to The New York Times.
“There aren’t many of these guys left,” Gregory Gordon, a former prosecutor for the U.S. Department of Justice on cases involving Nazi war criminals, told the StarTribune in a 2013 interview. “But, they committed some horrific crimes. As I always like to say, the evil deeds are frozen in time.”
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