New testimony unearthed by the Associated Press contradicts statements made by the family of Michael Karkoc, a former top commander of a Nazi-SS led unit. His family contended in June that he was not present during a 1944 attack on a Polish village, but testimony suggests he ordered it.
Karkoc is a retired Minnesota carpenter under scrutiny after a June investigation in which the Associated Press found Karkoc, 94, entered the U.S. in 1949 by lying to American authorities about his role in the Nazi SS-led Ukrainian Self Defense Legion, which is accused of torching villages and killing civilians in Poland. Official investigations have been launched in both Poland and Germany.
A SOLDIER'S TESTIMONY
The new file from the Ukrainian intelligence agency's archive says that a private under Karkoc's command testified in 1968 that Karkoc ordered an attack on Polish village Chlaniow in retaliation for the death of an SS major.
Pvt. Ivan Sharko served under Kakoc's command at the time of the raid, a German roster confirms. Sharko testified the initial order was given by a separate officer before Karkoc instructed his unit to attack Chlaniow.
According to the Russian-language file, Sharko said the commander of his unit, Wolf, also instructed the company to "cordon off the village and check all the houses, and to find and punish the partisans," the Associated Press reported. Karkoc fought under the war name "Wolf," and wrote a 1995 memoir under both his real name and his pseudonym.
Sharko died in the 1980s.
SON: 'MY FATHER WAS NEVER A NAZI'
Karkoc's son made a statement in June strongly denying the AP's report.
"Their slander cannot hope to besmirch my father's character. It only serves to damage and discredit the AP's credibility," Andrij Karkos said. "Our family will give the Associated Press an opportunity to retract and withdraw their sensationalistic and scandalous allegations."
"My father was never a Nazi. As for the rest of AP's story, its allegation, hearsay, implication, association or conjecture, but notably lacking in truth or evidence. Until we have had the opportunity to obtain documents via the Freedom of Information Act and had a chance to review witnesses and sources, the Karkoc family will have no further comments," Karkos said.
Karkoc, who spells his last name differently than his son, has lived in northeast Minneapolis for decades. Karkos has yet to comment on Sharko's testimony.
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