back to top

A Former Nazi Commander Lives In Minnesota

He's 94 and the U.S. is probably going to deport him to be prosecuted for his crimes in Germany or Poland.

Posted on

Michael Karkoc was a top commander of a Nazi SS-led unit, which reportedly burned villages filled with women and children. The Associated Press found him in northeast Minneapolis.

The St. Paul Pioneer Press, Chris Polydoroff / AP

He lied to American immigration officials to get into the U.S. and has been living in Minnesota since the end of World War II.

According to the AP:

Michael Karkoc, 94, told American authorities in 1949 that he had performed no military service during World War II, concealing his work as an officer and founding member of the SS-led Ukrainian Self Defense Legion and later as an officer in the SS Galician Division, according to records obtained by the AP through a Freedom of Information Act request. The Galician Division and a Ukrainian nationalist organization he served in were both on a secret American government blacklist of organizations whose members were forbidden from entering the United States at the time.

Heorhiy Syvyi, left, was 9 when the Ukrainian SS force that Karkoc was reportedly part of stormed his village to kill everyone as revenge for the murder of a German officer.


Syvyi managed to flee with his father and hide in a shelter covered in branches. But the rest of his family was not as lucky. His mother and 4-year-old brother were killed.

"When we came out we saw the smoldering ashes of the burned house and our neighbors searching for the dead. My mother had my brother clasped to her chest. This is how she was found — black and burned," said Syvyi, 78, sitting on a bench outside his home."

While the U.S. was unaware of Karkoc's past, he apparently felt safe enough to publish a Ukrainian-language memoir in 1995, which detailed his time working with Nazis.

Karkoc wrote that he helped found the Ukrainian Self Defense Legion in 1943 in collaboration with the Nazis' feared SS intelligence agency, the SD, to fight on the side of Germany — and served as a company commander in the unit, the AP reports.

Asked about his wartime service for Nazi Germany outside of his home, Karkoc said, "I don't think I can explain."


A monument pays tribute to those who were killed in Pidhaitsi close to Ukraine's western city of Lutsk.

The monument reads: “To our parents, wives, children, who were murdered by the German occupants on December 3, 1943 in Pidhaitsi. 21 people, including 9 children.”

Adrian Carrasquillo is the White House correspondent for BuzzFeed News and is based in Washington, DC.

Contact Adrian Carrasquillo at

Got a confidential tip? Submit it here.