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.)