Although Karkoc talks in his memoirs about fighting anti-Nazi Polish resistance fighters, he makes no mention of attacks on civilians. He does indicate that he was with his company in the summer of 1944 when the Self Defense Legion's commander -- Siegfried Assmuss, whose SS rank was equivalent to major -- was killed.
"We lost an irreplaceable commander, Assmuss," he wrote about the partisan attack near Chlaniow.
He did not mention the retaliatory massacre that followed, which was described in detail by Malazhenski in his 1967 statement used to help convict platoon leader Teodozy Dak of war crimes in Poland in 1972. An SS administrative list obtained by the AP shows that Karkoc commanded both Malazhenski and Dak, who died in prison in 1974.
Malazhenski said the Ukrainian unit was ordered to liquidate Chlaniow in reprisal for Assmuss' death, and moved in the next day, machine-gunning people and torching homes. More than 40 people died.
"The village was on fire," Malazhenski said.
Villagers offered chilling testimony about the brutality of the attack.
In 1948, Chlaniow villager Stanislawa Lipska told a communist-era commission that she heard shots at about 7 a.m., then saw "the Ukrainian SS force" entering the town, calling out in Ukrainian and Polish for people to come out of their homes.
"The Ukrainians were setting fire to the buildings," Lipska said in a statement, also used in the Dak trial. "You could hear machine-gun shots and grenade explosions. Shots could be heard inside the village and on the outskirts. They were making sure no one escaped."
Witness statements and other documentation also link the unit circumstantially to a 1943 massacre in Pidhaitsi, on the outskirts of Lutsk -- today part of Ukraine -- where the Self Defense Legion once was based. Twenty-one villagers, mostly women and children, were slaughtered.
Karkoc says in his memoir that his unit was founded and headquartered there in 1943 and later mentions that Pidhaitsi was still the unit's base in January 1944.
Another legion member, Kost Hirniak, said in his own 1977 memoir that the unit, while away on a mission, was suddenly ordered back to Pidhaitsi after a German soldier was killed in the area; it arrived on Dec. 2, 1943.
The next day, although Hirniak does not mention it, nearly two-dozen civilians, primarily women and children, were slaughtered in Pidhaitsi. There is no indication that any other units were in the area at the time.
Heorhiy Syvyi was a 9-year-old boy when troops swarmed into town on Dec. 3 and managed to flee with his father and hide in a shelter covered with branches. His mother and 4-year-old brother were killed.
"When we came out, we saw the smoldering ashes of the burned house and our neighbors searching for the dead. My mother had my brother clasped to her chest. This is how she was found -- black and burned," said Syvyi, 78, sitting on a bench outside his home.
Villagers today blame the attack generically on "the Nazis" -- something that experts say is not unusual in Ukraine because of the exalted status former Ukrainian nationalist troops enjoy.
However, Pidhaitsi schoolteacher Galyna Sydorchuk told the AP that "there is a version" of the story in the village that the Ukrainian troops were involved in the December massacre.
"There were many in Pidhaitsi who were involved in the Self Defense Legion," she said, "but they obviously keep it secret."
Ivan Katchanovski, a Ukrainian political scientist who has done extensive research on the Self Defense Legion, said its members have been careful to cultivate the myth that their service to Nazi Germany was solely a fight against Soviet communism. However, he said its actions -- fighting partisans and reprisal attacks on civilians -- tell a different story.
"Under the pretext of anti-partisan action, they acted as a kind of police unit to suppress and kill or punish the local populations. This became their main mission," said Katchanovski, who went to high school in Pidhaitsi and now teaches at the University of Ottawa, in Canada. "There is evidence of clashes with Polish partisans, but most of their clashes were small, and their most visible actions were mass killings of civilians."
There is evidence that the unit took part in the brutal suppression of the Warsaw Uprising, fighting the nationalist Polish Home Army as it sought to rid the city of its Nazi occupiers and take control of the city ahead of the advancing Soviet Army.
The uprising, which started in August 1944, was put down by the Nazis by the beginning of October in a house-to-house fight characterized by its ferocity.
The Self Defense Legion's exact role is not known, but Nazi documents indicate that Karkoc and his unit were there.
An SS payroll document, dated Oct. 12, 1944, says 10 members of the Self Defense Legion "fell while deployed to Warsaw" and more than 30 others were wounded. Karkoc is listed as the highest-ranking commander of 2 Company -- a lieutenant -- on a pay sheet that also lists Dak as one of his officers.
Another Nazi accounting document uncovered by the AP in the Polish National Archives in Krakow lists Karkoc by name -- including his rank, birthdate and hometown -- as one of 219 "members of the S.M.d.S.-Batl 31 who were in Warsaw," using the German abbreviation for the Self Defense Legion.
In early 1945, the Self Defense Legion was integrated into the SS Galicia Division, and Karkoc said in his memoirs that he served as a deputy company commander until the end of the war.
Following the war, Karkoc ended up in a camp for displaced people in Neu Ulm, Germany, according to documents obtained from the International Tracing Service in Bad Arolsen, Germany. The documents indicate that his wife died in 1948, a year before he and their two young boys -- born in 1945 and 1946 -- emigrated to the United States.
After he arrived in Minneapolis, he remarried and had four more children, the last born in 1966.
Karkoc told American officials he was a carpenter, and records indicate he worked for a nationwide construction company that has an office in Minneapolis.
A longtime member of the Ukrainian National Association, Karkoc has been closely involved in community affairs over the decades and was identified in a 2002 article in a Ukrainian-American publication as a "longtime UNA activist."
The lights were on at Karkoc's home Friday morning, but nobody answered a knock from an AP reporter seeking reaction to this story.
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."