Navigate to News section

New Report Links 94-Year-Old Ukrainian Nazi in Minnesota to Massacre

More horrific allegations against Michael Karkoc emerge

Adam Chandler
November 18, 2013
Michael Karkoc's House in Minneapolis, MN.(MPR)
Michael Karkoc's House in Minneapolis, MN.(MPR)

When we last checked in on Michael Karkoc, the 94-year-old retired carpenter had been living comfortably in Minneapolis for nearly 60 years…despite having served as a top commander of a Nazi SS-led Ukrainian unit during the 1944 Warsaw Uprising. After he first lied about his war service to U.S. government officials, he decided to write about it anyway in a 1995 memoir that apparently nobody read because it was in Ukrainian.

In June, the AP report that uncovered his identity did not directly link Karkoc to myriad atrocities like burning down villages and killing Polish civilians that took place around the time. A new report, however, has.

According to the new report, testimony from Pvt. Ivan Sharko, one of Karkoc’s soldiers, alleges that Karkoc gave the order to torch a village called Chlanow.

‘The commander of our company, Wolf, also gave the command to cordon off the village and check all the houses, and to find and punish the partisans.’ Karkoc fought under the wartime nom de guerre ‘Wolf,’ and he wrote a 1995 Ukrainian-language war memoir under both his real name and the pseudonym ‘Wolf.’

According to the document, Sharko described how nobody was spared in the ferocious onslaught on Chlanow.

‘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.’

Karkoc’s son, speaking on behalf of the family, strenuously denies that his father committed any war crimes.

Adam Chandler was previously a staff writer at Tablet. His work has appeared in the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, the Atlantic, Slate, Esquire, New York, and elsewhere. He tweets @allmychandler.