A top commander of a Nazi SS-led unit who lied to American immigration officials to get into the United States more than 60 years ago said Friday that he ‘can’t explain’ his wartime service.

Michael Karkoc, 94, made the remarks to a reporter who knocked on the door of his Minnesota home to ask him about accusations that he burned villages filled with women and children.

He told American authorities in 1949 that he had performed no military service during World War II, concealing his work as an officer and founding member of the SS-led Ukrainian Self Defense Legion and later as an officer in the SS Galician Division, according to records obtained by the AP.

Karkoc’s next-door neighbor said he has known the Ukrainian immigrant for many years, and was stunned to learn about the Nazi past of a man he has shared laughs with and known as a churchgoer.

‘For me, this is a shock,’ said Gordon Gnasdoskey, 79. ‘To come to this country and take advantage of its freedoms all of these years, it blows my mind.’

 

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