Poland has identified a Minnesota man as a former Nazi commander who allegedly ordered the murder of 44 Poles during World War II.

The Associated Press has named the man as Michael Karkoc, 98, who resides in Minneapolis. He was born in Lutsk, Ukraine, in 1919.

Prosecutor Robert Janicki stated that a long investigation led authorities to conclude that Karkoc commanded “a unit in the SS-led Ukrainian Self Defense Legion.”

Janicki only identified the man as Michael K:

“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 blames Russian President Vladimir Putin for this “misinformation or disinformation” about his father. He also said his father never went to Poland.

The investigation started in 2013 with German prosecutors and a year later, they declared Karkoc’s “alleged service made him the ‘holder of a German office,'” which means the soldier “served the purposes of the Nazi’s state’s world view” and that Germany could prosecute him “even though he is not German, his alleged crimes were against non-Germans and they were not committed on German soil.”

In 2015, those German courts found Karkoc unfit for trial.

A report from the Associated Press four years ago brought forth the evidence against Karkoc. Documents and testimonies allege that Karkoc, then 25, “allegedly participated in massacres at the Polish villages of Chłaniów and Władysławin on July 23, 1944.” From The Daily Mail:

Official records don’t say that Karkoc was responsible for the massacres, but statements from men in his unit and other documentation suggest he was present during the killings, according to an investigation by Associated Press (AP).

The investigation also revealed evidence in 2014 that Karkoc, then just 25, had ordered the murders himself, AP said, contradicting statements by his family that he wasn’t present.

And a German Nazi payroll sheet found in Polish archives signed by an SS officer on 8 January 1945 suggests he was present in Krakow, Poland, to collect his salary as a member of the USDL.

The Daily Mail reported that Nazi documents show Karkoc attempted to receive German citizenship, but the country turned him down because he could not German well. Authorities gave him “a pass stating that he was an ‘ethnic German.'”

He rose in the SS, becoming an officer, where a “unit he oversaw also took part in suppressing the Warsaw Uprising in August 1944.”

After the war, Karkoc found himself in Neu Ulm for displaced people, but “emigrated to the uS with his two sons in 1949” a year after his wife died:

In a background check by US officials on April 14, 1949, Karkoc said he had never performed any military service.

He told investigators that he ‘worked for father until 1944. Worked in labor camp from 1944 until 1945.’

He became a naturalized American citizen in 1959.
After he arrived in Minneapolis, Karkoc remarried and had four more children, the last of whom was born in 1966.

The Star Tribune in Minneapolis published a story about Karkoc when the news broke in 2013.