Inserted in the opening paragraph of Slate magazine’s story about a Nazi collaborator who was discovered last week to have been living in the US for the past 60-plus years were these two sentences, which would be slightly amusing if not representative of a grave injustice:
“Michael Karkoc now lives in Minnesota and when he entered the United States in 1949 told authorities he had not performed military service during World War II. That wasn’t really accurate.”
No, indeed it wasn’t. Karkoc was a founding member and an officer of the SS-led Ukrainian Self Defense Legion and later was an officer in the SS Galician Division.
There appears to be plenty of evidence that the company Karkoc commanded massacred civilians, including burning villages filled with women and children, and that he was at the scene of the atrocities, even if there’s no proof Karkoc himself didn’t actually participate.
The Associated Press broke the story about Karkoc on Friday and provided an exhaustive report on not just the fact he’s been living in the United States for decades, but included background between groups allied with the Nazis and how many individuals avoided being brought to justice under the guise of fighting communism.
It will be hard for Karkoc to plead mistaken identity; in 1995 he published a Ukrainian-language memoir that stated he helped found the Ukrainian Self Defense Legion in 1943 to fight on the side of Germany – and wrote that he served as a company commander in the unit, which received orders directly from the SS, through the end of the war.
The memoir is available at the US Library of Congress, according to The Associated Press.
(Above: A 1944 photo shows head of the SS Heinrich Himmler, center, reviewing troops of the Galician SS-Volunteer Infantry Division, of which Michael Karkoc was a member.)
McGarity, a technical sergeant, was positioned with the rest of the 99th Infantry Division in the Ardennes Forest in December 1944 when Hitler mounted a final desperate offensive, seeking to break through the region and make for the North Sea.
Hitler believed if the plan were successful he might be able to negotiate a separate peace with the US and Great Britain, dividing them from the Soviets and allowing the Nazis to then concentrate on fighting the Red Army to the east.
Allied forces, which had been moving toward Germany after the D-Day invasion of France, were caught unaware by the counteroffensive and were initially pushed back.
The battle proved the costliest of the war for the US in terms of casualties with 89,000 killed, wounded, captured of missing. German losses were comparable, but the Nazis could less afford the loss of both men and materiel that the battle ultimately claimed.
Efforts to raise the sole surviving German Dornier Do 17 bomber from World War II began last Friday, more than 70 years after it was shot down over the English Channel.
The aircraft, a light bomber, rests in approximately 50 feet of water and is in surprisingly good condition, according to those involved with the salvage operation.
Officials plan to raise the bomber with a specially designed cradle later this month.
The project will be the biggest recovery of its kind in British waters, and the price tag could top $900,000, according to Reuters.
The existence of the Dornier Do 17 – lost during the Battle of Britain – off the coast of Kent became known when it was spotted by divers in 2008 lying on a chalk bed with a small debris field around it.
“The plane will be packed in gel and plastic sheeting to shield it from the air before it can be transported to hydration tunnels where the crust created by 70 years underwater will be washed away over the next two years,” according to Reuters.
Eventually, the bomber will be exhibited in the Royal Air Force Museum in London.
In a case that likely has more than a few people checking their own personal genealogy, New York authorities say that a 97-year old who died last year left behind an estate valued at nearly $40 million but no heirs and no will.
Roman Blum survived the Holocaust and came to the US after World War II, where he became a successful real estate developer.
Blum married another Holocaust survivor, but she died in 1992 and the couple had no children.
Despite the advice of numerous friends, Blum declined to make a will for himself, leaving the largest unclaimed estate in New York State history, according to the state comptroller’s office.
A friend summed up the situation as only a New Yorker can:
“He was a very smart man but he died like an idiot,” said Paul Skurka, a fellow Holocaust survivor who befriended Blum after doing carpentry work for him in the 1970s.
North Korea has been making headlines a great deal lately, and not for good reasons.
In a move that must have warmed the hearts of millions of impoverished North Koreans scraping to find enough food to keep their families from starving, the nation’s leadership announced intentions to launch a preemptive nuclear strike against the United States, calling the US the “sworn enemy of the Korean people.”
A few days later, North Korea confirmed it was ending the 60-year armistice connected to the 1950-53 Korean War.
On March 30, Pyongyang declared it was in “a state of war” with South Korea, and Kim Jong-un stated that rockets were ready to be fired at American bases in the Pacific in response to the US flying two nuclear-capable B2 stealth bombers over the Korean peninsula.
While US intelligence officials speculate that Kim Jong-un is using the bluster to assert control over his country, and his ultimate goal is recognition rather than getting involved in a devastating conflict, the general consensus seems to be that the baby-faced dictator is decidedly unpredictable, if not eight kinds of crazy.
Which is just what the people of North Korea don’t need at this point.
More than 60 years after Army Lt. Col. Don C. Faith Jr., died at the brutal Battle of Chosin Reservoir in late 1950, the Medal of Honor recipient’s remains have been recovered and interred at Arlington National Cemetery.
Faith, a veteran of both World War II and the Korean War, was only identified last year.
The Washington, Ind., native was buried at Arlington last week.
His only child, Barbara “Bobbie” Broyles, who was just 4 years old at the time of her father’s death, attended the ceremony.
“I’m incredulous,” she told FoxNews.com. “He’s been missing for 62 years and it’s a wonderful, wonderful thing that he’s been found.”
With the onset of the Korean War in the summer of 1950, Faith, then 32, was dispatched to help stop the communist invasion of the southern part of the nation.
A handful of wooden synagogues, among the last vestiges of Lithuania’s thriving pre-World War II Jewish culture, are crumbling because of a lack of money and support.
Lithuania has barely more than a dozen wooden synagogues remaining, dating between the late 19th century and the 1930s.
They are unused today and falling apart, victims in part of abuse and neglect during the Soviet era.
“Their state of disrepair struck me,” said Gilles Vuillard, a Lithuania-based French artist who has depicted them in his work over the past few years. “Most often people didn’t even know where they were located anymore, yet they are witness to a unique cultural heritage.”
Lithuania’s pre-war Jewish population was approximately 210,000. Of that, an estimated 195,000, or more than 90 percent, were murdered by the Nazis following their invasion of the Baltics in June 1941.
Most of the small number who survived the Holocaust moved to Israel after the war.
Most Jews in Lithuania today arrived after 1945 and have little to no historical connection to the wooden synagogues.
In the final days of World War II, Nazi U-boats were all but sitting ducks for Allied planes and ships: many German submarines, making a last, desperate gamble to take out enemy shipping, never got far beyond the European coast before being located and sunk.
One of those doomed U-boats, U-486, was discovered Monday off the west coast of Norway.
The U-486, a Type VIIC U-boat, was torpedoed and broken in two by the British submarine HMS Tapir on April 12, 1945, shortly after leaving the western Norwegian town of Bergen, according to Arild Maroey Hansen of the Bergen maritime museum.
All 48 men onboard were killed.
Launched in 1944, the U-486 sank three ships and crippled a fourth during her short career. However, one of the vessels it sent to the bottom was the former Belgian liner SS Leopoldville, which had been converted into an American troop transport.
On Christmas Eve 1944, the U-486 sent a torpedo into the Leopoldville, which was in the English Channel approximately five miles from the coast of Cherbourg, France.
The ship was carrying more than 2,200 American servicemen who were en route to serve as reinforcements for US troops involved in the Battle of the Bulge.
Ewald-Heinrich von Kleist, the last surviving member of the July 20, 1944, plot to kill Adolf Hitler, died earlier this month at age 90.
Von Kleist had joined the Wehrmacht as an infantry officer in 1940 at age 18, but he did so out of an allegiance to country, not to the Führer. He came from a long line of Prussian landowners who had served the state for centuries in high-ranking military and administrative positions, according to the Associated Press.
However, von Kleist’s father, a Christian, conservative and monarchist, resisted Hitler, and the Nazi flag never flew from the Kleist castle in Pomerania nor was the Nazi salute ever given there, according to The Economist.
As the war progressed and its true nature was revealed to the younger von Kleist, he grew increasing troubled. Stationed on the Eastern Front, he saw some of the conflict’s most brutal action and was wounded in 1943.
In early 1944, Col. Claus von Stauffenberg, the leader of a group of anti-Nazi plotters, asked von Kleist to undertake a suicide mission to kill Hitler.
Von Kleist hesitated, according to The Economist, hoping that his father would object and save him. But his father paused for only a moment before he told him he must do it: “A man who doesn’t take such a chance will never again be happy in life.”
Seventy-five years ago today, Germany marched into, occupied and annexed Austria in what became known as the Anschluss.
As the above photo shows, many turned out to joyously greet Wehrmacht troops as they rolled through the Austrian countryside and cities, including Vienna.
Not all were advocates of the union, however.
Austrian Chancellor Kurt Schuschnigg was committed to his country’s independence despite several years of bullying from Austrian and German Nazis.
Prior to the actual German annexation, Schuschnigg had scheduled a plebiscite on the issue of unification for March 13, 1938, expecting his fellow countrymen to reject the idea.
Adolf Hitler, ever the proponent of fair and honest elections, declared the vote would be tainted by fraud and stated that Germany would not abide by the results.