A Minnesota man accused of committing war crimes when he commanded a Nazi-led unit during World War II contributed thousands of dollars to the Republican National Committee, a Daily Beast review of federal campaign records found.
Michael Karkoc is wanted for arrest in Poland after the country’s war crimes prosecutors said they are “100 percent” certain that Karkoc commanded a SS company and that there was “no doubt” that his men razed two Polish villages, killing 40 civilians. In July, Poland requested Karkoc’s extradition from the U.S. and is waiting for a decision. (The Justice Department said it does not comment on extradition requests.)
In June 2013, the Associated Press reported Karkoc was a SS officer and that one of his men told Soviet investigators that his unit had been ordered to “liquidate all the residents” of the village of Chlaniow, Poland, resulting in the deaths of men, women and children.
After the AP published its exposé, Karkoc made three separate contributions to the Republican National Committee totaling $3,850 between September 2013 and May 2014. These are the only federal campaign contributions he has made, according to available records.
The RNC did not respond to a request for comment.
Karkoc’s son, Andriy Karkos, told The Daily Beast the contributions were made only because Karkoc has been a “lifelong Republican.”
“He has a picture of Ronald and Nancy Reagan in his bedroom,” Karkos said.
Asked to explain his father’s affinity for the GOP, Karkos replied: “Republicans oppose communists…Under FDR, the White House was penetrated by Soviet agents of influence.”
“I’m assuming he voted Republican [in the 2016 presidential election],” Karkos added, remarking that he sees no reason for his father to have changed his support for the GOP.
"The fact that he donated in 2014 has nothing to do with the lies and slanders about my father…the Associated Press said in the third paragraph of their original scandalous story slandering my father that the records do not show that [he] had a direct role in war crimes.”
However, the AP cited cited a Nazi payroll sheet signed by an SS officer in 1945 showing Karkoc collected his salary as a member of the Ukrainian Self Defense Legion, an SS unit of Ukranian nationalists. Karkoc’s own memoir in which he says he helped found the USDL with the help of the SS and that he served as a company commander until the end of the war.
Multiple statements from men in Karkoc’s unit “confirm the Ukrainian company he commanded massacred civilians,” the AP wrote, “and suggest that Karkoc was at the scene of these atrocities as the company leader.”
The report also cites Nazi SS files stating Karkoc and his unit were involved in suppressing the Warsaw Uprising, an operation by the Polish underground to liberate the city from German control, which ended with more than 150,000 civilians killed by Germans.
Additionally, the Associated Press obtained Karkoc’s U.S. Army intelligence file under the Freedom of Information Act, showing that Karkoc lied to US immigration officials in 1949, having claimed that he did not engage in any military service during World War II.
Karkoc became a naturalized citizen ten years later and listed his occupation on federal campaign contribution records as a carpenter. Karkoc, 98, now lives in a nursing home. Polish prosecutors said “age is not a factor when it comes to bringing anyone to justice.”