Minnesota man accused of Nazi war crimes

A Polish prosecutor announced Monday the filing of a warrant to extradite a Minnesota man accused of committing war crimes for the Nazis during WWII.

Ninety-eight-year-old Michael Karkoc is accused of ordering the burning of a village full of women and children while serving as a Nazi Schutzstaffel — commonly referred to as the SS — commander during the war.

Prosecutor Robert Janicki said on Monday that there is evidence Karkoc was responsible for the death of 44 Poles in that and possibly other attacks during WWII, the Chicago Tribune reported.   

Though it is unclear when this particular village was ravaged, it was the Nazi invasion of Poland in 1939 that started WWII. Karkoc would have been 20 years old around that time.

He and his family maintain that Karkoc has done nothing wrong, and is unable to defend himself, the Associated Press reported.

In 2015, the German government reportedly halted its own investigation into the matter after determining Karkoc was unfit for trial.

Efraim Zuroff, chief Nazi hunter for the Simon Wiesenthal Center, told the Associated Press that an independent assessment of Karkoc should be conducted to determine whether he is well enough to stand trial.

“It’s high time that the Poles became more active seeking people who committed crimes in WWII on Polish soil,” Zuroff told the AP, adding Karkoc’s extradition and others would send “a very powerful message.”

According to a 2015 Wiesenthal Center report written by Zuroff, in the past 14 years there have been at least 102 convictions of Nazi war criminals, some 98 new indictments filed and more than 3,500 new investigations launched.

In 2013, the Jewish human rights organization called on the U.S. Department of Justice to launch an investigation into Karkoc, “who is suspected of being a Ukrainian SS commandant who concealed his wartime record in order to enter the U.S. after WWII.”

Poland recently published a database containing the names of some 200 concentration camp guards online, according to German news organization Deutsche Welle reported.

Some six million jews were killed during the Nazi party’s reign over Germany, according to the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum  

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