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Obama Claims Uncle Liberated Auschwitz

From those mavens of history at the Washington Post (and CNN via YouTube):

“I had a [sic] uncle who was one of the… who was part of the first American troops to go into Auschwitz and liberate the concentration camps. And the story in our family was that when he came home he just went up into the attic and he didn’t leave the house for six months.”

Obama Speaks with “Deep Humility” on Memorial Day

By Karl Vick

LAS CRUCES, NM. — Sen. Barack Obama spoke for most of an hour about doing right by America’s veterans without crossing swords with Sen. John McCain, in a carefully measured Memorial Day appearance that kept the focus on the former service members seated around him on three sides.

“I speak to you today with deep humility,” Obama said in a speech delivered before an invitation-only town hall meeting at a ranching museum in southern New Mexico. “My grandfather marched in Patton’s Army, but I cannot know what it is to walk into battle like so many of you. My grandmother worked on a bomber assembly line, but I cannot know what it is for a family to sacrifice like so many of yours have.

“I am the father of two young girls, and I cannot imagine what it is to lose a child. My heart breaks for the families who’ve lost a loved one.

“These things I cannot know,” the Illinois Democrat said, “But there are some things I do know.” …

Obama said he suspects that one of the reasons his grandfather seldom spoke of his wartime experience was the trauma he had witnessed.

“In World War Two we didn’t have the concept of post traumatic stress syndrome. People had to basically handle it on their own,” he said. Referring to an uncle who had been one of the first U.S. troops into Auschwitz, the concentration camp, Obama said: “The story in the family is he came home and just went up in the attic.”

Afterward, Paul Weinbaum, 66, beamed his approval of a candidate who had captured both his frustrations and his desire.

“There is hope for America,” he said. “The sincerity comes through.” …

Sure it does.

But maybe this is another of Mr. Obama’s bizarre uncles in the attic.

For he was either a member of the Red Army or a liar, since Auschwitz was liberated by the Soviet Army.

From Wikipedia:

Auschwitz concentration camp

Evacuation and liberation

The gas chambers of Birkenau were blown up by the SS in January 1945 in an attempt to hide the German crimes from the advancing Soviet troops. On January 17, 1945 Nazi personnel started to evacuate the facility; most of the prisoners were forced on a death march to the camp toward Wodzisław Śląski (German: Loslau). Those too weak or sick to walk were left behind; about 7,500 prisoners were liberated by the 322nd Rifle Division of the Red Army on January 27 1945.

US troops never set foot in Poland, where Auschwitz was located.

Granted, elements of Patton’s Third Army did liberate the Mauthausen-Gusen death camps, in Austria. But Obama said it was his grandfather who served with Patton — not this suddenly appearing “uncle.”

In any case, wouldn’t you think the uncle would get the name right if he were actually involved and it was so traumatic he didn’t leave the house for six months?

Or that at least his Harvard educated nephew would get the details right?

Tellingly, it should be noted that there is no mention of this incident or his uncle’s WWII service in either of Mr. Obama’s naval-gazing biographies.

Weirdly, Mr. Obama has mentioned the liberation of Auschwitz once before. In fact, in his oh so historic speech on October 2, 2002:

Remarks of Illinois State Sen. Barack Obama Against Going to War with Iraq

October 2, 2002

Good afternoon. Let me begin by saying that although this has been billed as an anti-war rally, I stand before you as someone who is not opposed to war in all circumstances. The Civil War was one of the bloodiest in history, and yet it was only through the crucible of the sword, the sacrifice of multitudes, that we could begin to perfect this union, and drive the scourge of slavery from our soil. I don’t oppose all wars.

My grandfather signed up for a war the day after Pearl Harbor was bombed, fought in Patton’s army. He saw the dead and dying across the fields of Europe; he heard the stories of fellow troops who first entered Auschwitz and Treblinka. He fought in the name of a larger freedom, part of that arsenal of democracy that triumphed over evil, and he did not fight in vain. I don’t oppose all wars…

But neither there nor anywhere else has Mr. Obama ever mentioned this suddenly convenient uncle.

Moreover, wasn’t Mr. Obama’s mother an only child? (Hence her being named “Stanley” by her frustrated father who wanted a boy.)

So where did this uncle come from? From Africa?

Pull the other one, Barack.

  Update!

From the Politico:

Obama’s World War II history

Earlier, the Republican National Committee pounced on Obama’s improbable statement that an uncle had served in the unit that liberated Auschwitz.

In fact, campaign spokesman Bill Burton says, his great uncle was a member of the 89th Infantry Division that liberated the Ohrduf camp, part of Buchenwald and, according to the Holocaust Museum, the first concentration camp liberated by U.S. troops.

The soldier in question, Burton said, is Obama’s grandmother’s brother, who’s still alive.

UPDATE: “Senator Obama’s family is proud of the service of his grandfather and uncles in World War II – especially the fact that his great uncle was a part of liberating one of the concentration camps at Buchenwald. Yesterday he mistakenly referred to Auschwitz instead of Buchenwald in telling of his personal experience of a soldier in his family who served heroically,” Burton says.

Hmmm.

Would it be wrong to notice that the Obama camp couldn’t be bothered to give this great-uncle’s name or his military unit?

(Maybe they are still researching those details.)

One assumes it is Madelyn’s brother Charles W. Payne, who is said to have been born around 1924.

But what a laugh the Politico gave us with this:

Earlier, the Republican National Committee pounced on Obama’s improbable statement…

If only.

This article was posted by Steve Gilbert on Tuesday, May 27th, 2008. Comments are currently closed.

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