The former commander of a Nazi SS unit accused of destroying villages full of women and children has reportedly spent the last several decades living in Minnesota.
The “Minnesota Nazi,” whose real name is Michael Karkoc, is a 94-year-old native of Minneapolis, the Associated Press reports. The former SS unit commander reportedly lied to U.S. immigration officials in order to enter the country after World War II and has lived here ever since.
Karkoc reportedly told U.S. officials in 1949 that he hadn’t performed any sort of military service during World War II, despite the fact that he had served as a founding officer of the Nazi SS-led Ukrainian Self Defense Legion and a member of the SS Galician Division, AP notes. Both of these organizations were mentioned in a secret U.S. government blacklist, and would have prevented Karkoc from entering the country.
While the Minnesota Nazi has not been directly accused of committing any war crimes, the Ukrainian company that he commanded is known to have massacred civilians during the conflict, AP reports. Nazi SS files state that Karkoc and his unit participated in the suppression of the 1944 Warsaw Uprising, which resulted in the deaths of countless Polish rebels.
"In America this is a relatively easy case: If he was the commander of a unit that carried out atrocities, that's a no brainer," Efraim Zuroff, a “Nazi hunter” at the Simon Wiesenthal Center in Jerusalem, told AP. "Even in Germany ... if the guy was the commander of the unit, then even if they can't show he personally pulled the trigger, he bears responsibility."
The Minnesota Nazi reportedly told U.S. officials that he worked as a carpenter, and records show that he was an employee of a major construction company that has an office in Minneapolis, AP reports. Karkoc was married twice and had four U.S.-born children, the last born in 1966.
Karkoc now lives in northwest Minneapolis, in an area with a large Ukrainian population, AP reports. The 94-year-old reportedly walks without the aid of a cane or walker, but refused to be interviewed about his service as a Nazi officer. “I don’t think I can explain,” he told AP.