Poland Confirms Minnesota Man Was Nazi Commander

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE WASHINGTON POST)

Poland confirms Minnesota man was Nazi commander

March 13 at 2:37 PM
WARSAW, Poland — Poland will seek the arrest and extradition of a Minnesota man exposed by The Associated Press as a former commander in an SS-led unit that burned Polish villages and killed civilians in World War II, prosecutors said Monday.Prosecutor Robert Janicki said evidence gathered over years of investigation into U.S. citizen Michael K. confirmed “100 percent” that he was a commander of a unit in the SS-led Ukrainian Self Defense Legion.He did not release the last name in line with privacy laws but the AP has identified the man as 98-year-old Michael Karkoc, from Minneapolis.

“All the pieces of evidence interwoven together allow us to say the person who lives in the U.S. is Michael K., who commanded the Ukrainian Self Defense Legion which carried out the pacification of Polish villages in the Lublin region,” Janicki said.

The decision in Poland comes four years after the AP published a story establishing that Michael Karkoc commanded the unit, based on wartime documents, testimony from other members of the unit and Karkoc’s own Ukrainian-language memoir.

Karkoc’s family has repeatedly denied he was involved in any war crimes and his son questioned the validity of the evidence against him after Poland’s announcement, calling the accusations “scandalous and baseless slanders.”

“There’s nothing in the historical record that indicates my father had any role whatsoever in any type of war crime activity,” said Andriy Karkoc.

He questioned the Polish investigation, saying “my father’s identity has never been in question nor has it ever been hidden.”

Prosecutors with the state National Remembrance Institute, which investigates Nazi and Communist-era crimes against Poles, have asked a regional court in Lublin to issue an arrest warrant for Karkoc. If granted, Poland would seek his extradition, as Poland does not allow trial in absentia, Janicki said.

“The prosecutor in Lublin intends to direct a motion to the U.S. justice authorities asking that the suspect … be handed over to Poland,” the institute said in a statement.

Janicki added the man’s age was no obstacle in seeking to bring him before justice.

“He is our suspect as of today,” Janicki said.

If convicted of contributing to the killing of civilians in 1944, Karkoc could face life in prison.

The U.S. attorney’s office in Minnesota declined to comment on the case.

Efraim Zuroff, the head Nazi hunter for the Simon Wiesenthal Center, applauded the decision as an important signal even at this late stage.

“Any legal step that’s taken against these people is very important,” he said by telephone from Jerusalem. “It sends a very powerful message, and these kinds of things should not be abandoned just because of the age of a suspect.”

Prosecutors in Germany shelved their own investigation of Karkoc in 2015 after saying they had received “comprehensive medical documentation” from doctors at the geriatric hospital in the U.S. where he was being treated that led them to conclude he was not fit for trial.

Karkoc’s family says he suffers from Alzheimer’s disease.

Zuroff urged that he be reassessed by independent doctors.

“It is a very common occurrence that elderly individuals facing prosecution for World War II crimes make every effort to look as sick and as infirm as possible,” he said.

The investigations in Germany and Poland began after AP’s story in June 2013, which established Karkoc was a commander of the unit and then lied to American immigration officials to get into the United States a few years after the war.

A second report uncovered evidence that Karkoc himself ordered his men in 1944 to attack a Polish village in which dozens of civilians were killed, contradicting statements from his family that he was never at the scene.

“The Associated Press stands by its stories, which were well-documented and thoroughly reported,” said Lauren Easton, director of AP’s media relations, on Monday.

The special German prosecutor’s office that investigates Nazi crimes concluded that enough evidence existed to pursue murder charges against Karkoc.

AP’s initial investigation found that Karkoc entered the U.S. in 1949 by failing to disclose to American authorities his role as a commander in the SS-led Ukrainian Self Defense Legion. The investigation found that Karkoc was in the area of the massacres, but did not uncover evidence linking him directly to atrocities.

The second story, based upon an investigative file originally from the Ukrainian intelligence agency’s archive, revealed that a private under Karkoc’s command testified in 1968 that Karkoc ordered an assault on the village of Chlaniow in retaliation for the slaying of the SS major who led the Legion, in which Karkoc was a company commander.

A German roster of the unit confirmed that Pvt. Ivan Sharko, a Ukrainian, served under Karkoc’s command at the time.

Other eyewitness accounts, both from villagers and members of Karkoc’s unit, corroborated the testimony that the company set buildings on fire and gunned down more than 40 men, women and children.

Other soldiers who served under Karkoc backed up Sharko’s testimony about civilian killings.

Pvt. Vasyl Malazhenski, for example, told Soviet investigators that in 1944 that unit was directed to “liquidate all the residents” of Chlaniow — although he did not say who gave the order.

Sharko also testified in the investigative documents that Karkoc’s company was directly involved in a “punitive mission” against Poles near the village of Sagryn in 1944.

Rising reported from Berlin. Steve Karnowski in Minneapolis contributed to this report.

U.S. Support for the War in Yemen Is Indefensible

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF TIME MAGAZINE)

WORLD AFFAIRS

U.S. Support for the War in Yemen Is Indefensible

A destroyed vehicle is pictured in the Yemeni port city of Hodeidah on Oct. 13, 2016.
AFP/Getty ImagesA destroyed vehicle is pictured in the Yemeni port city of Hodeidah on Oct. 13, 2016.

Ray Offenheiser is the President of Oxfam America.

‘Deference to Saudi Arabia has cost America its moral footing’

Not even funerals are sacred in a time of war.

Last Saturday, as hundreds of Yemeni mourners waited to pay their respects to a beloved elder, warplanes obliterated the funeral hall they were gathered in killing more than 140 people and wounding more than 525. This is not an isolated incident but rather the latest tragedy in Saudi Arabia’s military intervention—facilitated by U.S. intelligence sharing and aerial refueling.

These are your tax dollars at work.

The humanitarian impact of the bombing campaign is staggering—no civilian is left unaffected. Yemen, the poorest country in the Middle East before the start of this conflict, is now on the brink of starvation. The numbers do not sufficiently represent the desperation that this conflict has wrought, but they’re a start. More than 19 million people do not have access to clean water, 14 million people are suffering from hunger and malnutrition, and more than 3 million Yemenis have been driven from their homes.

We live in a world where the rules of war are continually flouted and the U.S.-supported Saudi-led campaign in Yemen is no exception. In the more than 3,000 strikes since the conflict began, civilian sites are routinely in the line of fire. Hospitals, schools, factories, homes, markets—there is no safe space in Yemen today. And with Saudi Arabia’s purchase of more than $115 billion in U.S.-manufactured military equipment approved since the war in Yemen began—including air-to-ground munitions as well as tanks—the jeopardy civilians are facing is marked with a deep American imprint.

Newly disclosed government documents reveal that State Department lawyers warned that the U.S. could be implicated in war crimes for supporting a Saudi-led air campaign in Yemen.

The sale went ahead anyway.

Now, in the wake of Saturday’s attack, the U.S. announced that it will immediately review its support to the Saudi-led coalition. This review cannot be a smokescreen for inaction or a place holder for responsibility. As of now, it is unclear how the review will unfold, what the timeline is, and who will be responsible for carrying it out. And U.S. support for the coalition will continue even though the very need for a review casts a long shadow on anything that takes place until it is finalized.

The lack of transparency from the get-go is an insult to the families of the massacred, who are still burying their dead, and for the families of those wounded in the attack desperately trying to seek assistance for their loved ones. At the very least, the U.S. should suspend its support for the campaign until the review is completed.

Deference to Saudi Arabia has cost America its moral footing. Many Members of Congress agree. Last month, 27 senators—including top leaders—voted to block a sale of tanks and other defense equipment to the Kingdom in a direct rebuke to the Obama administration. While the measure did not pass, it was a sign of the growing realization in Congress that U.S. support for the war in Yemen is indefensible.

To be clear, the Saudi-led coalition is not the only ones responsible for the violence and loss of life. All sides involved in this horrific war are responsible for the serious violations that have led to this humanitarian catastrophe. But the U.S. is only supporting one side.

In the end, one has to wonder how this will ultimately reflect on President Obama’s legacy. He and his foreign policy leadership will surely look back upon the decisions they’ve made about Yemen with regret in light of the carnage and the daily assault on human dignity.

Each day the U.S. supports this war, with every air strike that hits a civilian site, every civilian killed, maimed or going hungry; with every U.S. weapon used in Yemen and every war plane refueled that kills or wounds civilians, the U.S. tarnishes its reputation in the world. Some things should still be sacred.

UN: Aleppo Bombing Are A War Crime: So Are Presidents Putin & Assad War Criminals?

 

This past week as the very weak humanitarian cease-fire in Aleppo Syria broke down Russian and Syrian Jets restarted bombing the eastern half of this once beautiful city. The UN says there are still more than 250,000 civilians ‘trapped’ in the eastern half of the city that ‘the rebels’ still control. In reality almost all of Syria has become a stew of who hates who, who is backing who, and who is killing whom today. The UN says the people of the city are trapped and starving and have no way out from the conflict. We have heard in the past few days that Russian and Syrian Jets have been bombing and shelling pretty much anything and every thing not caring whom they kill. This sounds a bit like Hitler ordering the bombing of London during WW-2. We hear on our evening news how the hospitals in Aleppo have been bombed several times and that the Syrian government is using Barrel Bombs on the population. They have also been know to use chemical weapons of the citizens several times during this almost six-year Civil War. The UN says that the actions by Russia and Syria do amount to War Crimes. So my friends, my question is simple. If in deed these are by legal definition War Crimes, should anyone be charged with these crimes? These crimes are in fact ‘mass murder’ so does the World Court in the Netherlands at the Hague actually hold anyone in either government as the ‘criminals?’ Or is the Hague really just a paper tiger that only holds weak small third world countries Leaders at fault for their crimes? I ask you for your opinion, will Presidents Putin of Russia and President Assad of Syria be charged as War Criminals and put out warrants for their arrest? I believe that the answer to that is no. I don’t think they have the guts to charge President Putin with anything just as they did not charge President George W Bush, VP Dick Cheney or Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld for their illegal actions in Iraq. Folks, this article is just my opinion. Time will tell us all if I am correct or not. I believe I am going to be right on this issue or I wouldn’t have written this article to you. I wouldn’t bet the title to the farm on it, but then again, I don’t bet, I don’t have a farm and I don’t have a title. I hope you all have a great day, stay safe, stay out of Aleppo, God’s blessings to you all.

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