As part of a lengthy ongoing investigation, The Associated Press has unearthed testimony made by a soldier in 1968 that backs allegations that a 94-year-old Minneapolis man ordered a Nazi-led massacre in a Polish village during World War II.
The Associated Press in June reported that Michael Karkoc, who has led a quiet life in Minnesota for decades, was a top leader of a Nazi SS-led unit that has been accused of burning villages, and that he lied to U.S. immigration officials to gain entry into the United States. The retired carpenter is believed to have been living in Minnesota since 1949, and now lives in a northeast Minneapolis neighborhood.
The Associated Press has newly uncovered a file from the Ukrainian intelligence agency's archives, and documents state that a private under Karkoc's command testified in 1968 that Karkoc had ordered the 1944 attack on Chlaniow in Poland, in which women and children were slaughtered.
The original Associated Press investigation triggered official probes in Europe, and the AP reports that a German prosecutor on Monday said he would pursue murder charges against Karkoc.
Karkoc has refused comment. His family has denied that he was involved in any war crimes. His son Andrij Karkoc in a letter to the Star Tribune in July said the AP had "distorted history to publish sensational, false and inflammatory accusations against a defenseless 94-year-old."
The AP's reporting shocked Minneapolis residents, especially in Karkoc's neighborhood, the Star Tribune reported. The newspaper reported that Karkoc was considered a devoted family man, active in the church and a "pillar of the local Ukrainian community."
"How involved was he? Who was he? I have no idea," neighborhood resident Janine Munson told KARE 11. Sam Rafowitz, an 88-year-old Jewish resident of Minnetonka, who spent four years working in concentration camps, told WCCO, “I think they should put him on trial."
MPR News carried AP photos related to the case, including images of Karkoc's Petition for Naturalization and other documents. The Christian Science Monitor examined how Nazi hunters could have missed Karkoc, if the allegations are true.