It appears Brad Pitt and his crew allowed one Nazi to get away.
Michael Karkoc, 94, a top Nazi commander during World War II was discovered in living in Minneapolis after an AP investigation. Karkoc was an officer and co-founder of the SS-led Ukrainian Self Defense Legion, and later served in the SS Galician Division. According to Minnesota Public Radio, both groups were part of a secret American government blacklist that prohibited members to live in the United States.
How was Karkoc able to escape and remain hidden since World War II? He simply lied to customs. Karkoc denied military involvement in the war, and was allowed to move into the United States. Karkoc chose Minneapolis because he is of Ukrainian descent, and there is a community with a significant Ukrainian population in the northeast part of the city.
Karkoc probably would have never been discovered if it was not for a meddling researcher, and the fact Karkoc wrote a Ukrainian memoir about his war-time experience. According to CBS News, Karkoc’s name surfaced after a retired clinical psychologist decided to research Nazi War Crimes. This man stumbled upon Karkoc’s name when researching the SS Galician Division, and alerted the AP when he saw Karkoc resided in Minnesota.
According to the AP, Karkoc was not directly involved in any war crimes. However, he was the commander of a SS unit responsible for burning villages and involved in the 1944 Warsaw Uprising. According to The Daily Intelligencer, Karkoc would not comment on his war time service, and could not come up with a lie this time around. Karkoc told authorities, “I don’t think I can explain.”
Karkoc could be deported to Germany. Examiner.com reported Karkoc could be tried for war crimes as well, if there is enough “initial suspicion” of involvement. Examiner.com also said it would be unlikely Karkoc would be deported to Ukraine, since the country honors the SS Galican Division for standing up to the Soviet Union.
If Karkoc does go to trial, would he be convicted? Efraim Zuroff believes so. Zuroff, the lead Nazi hunter at Simon Wiesenthal Center in Jerusalem, told Minnesota Public Radio, “In America this is a relatively easy case: If he was the commander of a unit that carried out atrocities, that’s a no brainer. Even in Germany…if the guy was the commander of the unit, then even if they can’t show he personally pulled the trigger, he bears responsibility.”