Alleged Nazi SS Commander's Son Calls Report 'Sensationalistic and Scandalous'

"My father was never a Nazi," said Andrij Karkoc in a statement.

June 15, 2013, 2:24 PM

June 15, 2013— -- The youngest son of the man accused of being a former commander of a Nazi SS unit responsible for killing thousands of women and children during World War II denounced the allegations made against his 94-year-old father as "sensationalistic and scandalous."

"The Associated Press intentionally and maliciously defamed our father, Michael Karkoc," Andrij Karkoc said in a prepared statement. "Their slander cannot hold to besmirch my father's character. It serves only to damage and discredit the AP's credibility.

"As to the facts of the case, and I quote [the Associated Press], 'Records do not show that Karkoc had a direct hand in war crimes.'" he said. "That's the god's honest truth. My father was never a Nazi."

Karkoc called AP story "notably lacking in proof or evidence."

Karkoc said the family would not comment further until it obtained the documents and reviewed the witnesses and sources interviewed in the AP's story.

The Karkocs' attorney, Phillip Villaume, told he was meeting with the family this afternoon to "decide a course of action to take."

Villaume said he seeks to get a copy of anything used in the AP report in addition to any other federal or international law enforcement agencies that may have documents relevant to the case.

Associated Press spokesman Paul Colford told that the news organization stood by its story, despite Andrij Karkoc's condemnation.

"It's been thoroughly reported, including a description of Mr. Karkoc's own memoir describing his past," Colford said.

The AP reported that a lengthy investigation across six countries led it to discover Michael Karkoc living quietly in Minneapolis. Karkoc is accused of leading the SS-led Ukrainian Self Defense Legion, an organization whose members massacred civilians and resistance fighters throughout Ukraine and Poland and helped suppress the Warsaw Uprising.

Members of the legion were barred from entering the U.S. after the war. The AP reported that documents it obtained indicate that when emigrating to the U.S. in 1949, Karkoc lied about his role in the war, telling American officials he spent those years working for his father and then in a labor camp.

Polish officials pledged Friday to help with any investigation, but said it was too early to begin taking steps towards extradition.

"Polish prosecutors will help American investigators, there's no doubt," said a Polish embassy official who declined to be identified because he was not authorized to speak. "Help will be provided to take steps to examine the evidence. Based on the evidence a decision on extradition will be made."

Most of the crimes affiliated with the Ukrainian Self Defense Legion occurred in Poland, including the 1944 directive to "liquidate all the residents" of the village of Chlaniow, according to documents from a Soviet-era investigation, discovered by the AP.

If the AP's allegations against Karkoc turn out to be true, Poland and Germany might each ultimately seek to prosecute him.

Under German law, former Nazis with "command responsibility" can be charged with war crimes.

The Department of Justice, which handles such cases in the U.S., would not comment on an open investigation, but has used lies found in immigration papers to deport suspected war criminals in the past.

Calls made to Karkoc's home were not answered.

Despite keeping his alleged role in the war a secret in the United States, Karkoc is believed to have published a memoir in Ukraine in 1995, outlining his role in organizing and leading the Ukrainian Self Defense Legion in collaboration with the Nazis.

A British pharmacist who is an amateur historian researching the group came across the book and reached out to the AP for help tracking down Karkoc in the U.S.

Karkoc reportedly emigrated to the U.S. in 1949 with two sons after the death of his first wife. He settled in a Ukrainian neighborhood where he worked as a carpenter, remarried and had four more children, according to the AP.

"It doesn't come as a surprise," said Aaron Breitbart, a senior researcher at the Simon Weisenthal Foundation. "It is estimated that between 3,000 and 10,000 people entered the U.S. with dirty wartime pasts, who should not have been allowed in."

Breitbart indicated that Karkoc will likely not outlive the judicial process.

The U.S. doesn't try these alleged war criminals, but instead seeks to denaturalize and deport them. In some cases, foreign countries will ask for the suspect to be extradited.

In either case, the process is incredibly lengthy and can take years in court.

"It can take years and years by time courts say he can be deported," Breitbart said. "A good defense lawyer will drag it out until the guy gets biological amnesty. That is, until he dies."

Despite such suspects' advanced age, Breitbart said it remains important for governments to go after them.

"People need to know if you participate in a heinous crime, there is always someone looking for you," he said.

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