German prosecutor seeks murder charges against Minnesota man who led Nazi unit

By Travis Gettys
Monday, November 18, 2013 10:11 EDT
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Michael Karkoc ABC News
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A German prosecutor is recommending murder charges against a Minnesota carpenter for his role in the 1944 massacre of dozens of women and children during a Nazi-led attack on a Polish village.

Thomas Will, deputy head of the special prosecutors’ office that investigates Nazi crimes, said Monday he’d found enough evidence to recommend the prosecution of 94-year-old Michael Karkoc.

The Associated Press found in June that Karkoc had entered the U.S. in 1949 by failing to reveal to authorities that he’d commanded the SS-led Ukrainian Self Defense Legion.

That investigation found that Karkoc had been near the scene of the attack on Chlaniow but could not link him directly to the atrocities, but newly uncovered evidence from the Ukrainian intelligence agency’s archive showed that a private under his command testified in 1968 that Karkoc ordered the assault in retaliation for an SS major’s killing.

German records confirm that Pvt. Ivan Sharko, a Ukrainian, served under Karkoc’s command.

Sharko said that Karkoc, who fought under the name “Wolf” and published a 1995 war memoir under that name and his own, had ordered his unit to check all the houses in the village and find and punish all the partisans.

The private testified that no one in the village was spared.

“The legionaries surrounded the homes, set fire to them with matches, or with incendiary bullets, and they shot anyone who was found in the homes or anywhere in the streets,” Sharko said. “Most of the houses were burned as a result of this action. How many people were killed in all, I don’t know. I personally saw three corpses of peaceful inhabitants who had been killed.”

Sharkos died in the 1980s, the AP reported.

The AP reported that other eyewitness accounts back Sharko’s testimony that SS troops had set fire to buildings and shot more than 40 men, women and children.

Karkoc’s son has denied any involvement in war crimes by his father, who continues to live quietly in Minneapolis.

Watch this video report about Karkoc posted online in June by ABC News:

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