German prosecutors are recommending murder charges against 94-year-old Minnesota resident Michael Karkoc for ordering the attack of a Polish village killing dozens of women and children.
Karkoc was discovered living in Minneapolis in June, having lied to American immigration officials to enter the country in 1949.
Karkoc said he did not perform military service during World War II, but wartime documents show Karkoc on a Nazi payroll sheet dated Jan. 8, 1945. Karkoc had been a member of the SS-led Ukrainian Self-Defense Legion, which burned villages filled with children and women to the ground, the Associated Press reported.
Karkoc stated that he was never at the scene of the assault on Chlaniow, a Polish village that was razed to the ground. New testimony shows Karkoc ordered the attack.
A newly discovered intelligence file from the Ukrainian intelligence agency archives says a private testified in 1968 that Karkoc ordered the attack of the town for retaliation of a the murder of an SS major. The filed bears the stamp of Ukraine's Volyn regional prosecutors' office
A roster of the unit from Germany confirms that Ukranian Pvt. Ivan Sharko served under Karkoc’s command.
Sharko said the initial order was given by another officer, then Karkoc ordered his unit to attack the village.
"The command was given by one of the commanders to cordon off the village and prepare for battle," Sharko said, according to the investigative file. "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 pseudonym "Wolf," and he wrote a 1995 Ukrainian-language war memoir under both his real name and the pseudonym "Wolf."
In his testimony, Sharko explains that no one was spared at Chlaniow.
"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."
Forty-four villagers were killed by Henryka Jablonska, just 6 years old at the time, survived when a Nazi's machine gun jammed.
Jablonska was disgusted to learn Karkoc was living a peaceful life in Minneapolis and didn't think justice could be served after all these years.
"What good is it now?" she asked. "He is 94 and has spent so many years in peace and surrounded by his family."