The United States should investigate a 94-year-old Ukrainian man suspected of committing war crimes during World War II who resides in Minnesota, the Nazi-tracking Simon Wiesenthal Center has said.
An Associated Press investigative report Friday said Michael Karkoc had quietly lived in the northern US state for more than six decades after serving as a commander in a Nazi SS-led unit during World War II.
The AP said Karkoc was an officer and founding member of the SS-led Ukrainian Self Defense Legion, a nationalist group that allied with the Nazis against the Soviet Union, and later an officer in the SS Galician Division.
The report said it was not clear whether Karkoc himself had ordered or taken part in atrocities, but that the groups he commanded had burned villages and massacred women and children.
Karkoc and his unit were also reportedly involved in the brutal suppression of the 1944 Warsaw Uprising, one of the bloodiest episodes of the war.
Karkoc reportedly told US authorities in 1949 that he had had no military service during the war, which allowed him to enter the country.
On Friday the Simon Wiesenthal Center called on the US Justice Department to launch an investigation of Karkoc, saying the Galician Division was "responsible for brutal atrocities against civilians."
"Some of the worst atrocities were committed in Eastern Europe by local Nazi collaborators," Rabbi Marvin Hier, founder and dean of the Wiesenthal Center, wrote in a letter to the Justice Department.
"The fact that Karkoc was, in addition, a member of the Galician SS should, in itself, be sufficient reason to begin an investigation.
"That he is 94 years old should have no bearing on the fact that he has never answered for the crimes he is suspected of committing."