JERUSALEM – Sen. Barack Obama has been caught in an apparent gaffe that has some angry bloggers claiming the Democratic presidential candidate was “lying about the Holocaust for political gain.”
In a Memorial Day speech yesterday available on video, Obama told an audience his uncle liberated the Auschwitz concentration camp. The Nazi death camp, however, was liberated by the Soviet Union in January 1945.
After publication of this story, Obama campaign spokesman Bill Burton issued a correction. Obama was referring to his great uncle, a member of the 89th Infantry Division that liberated the Ohrduf camp, part of Buchenwald, in Germany. Burton said the great uncle, Obama’s grandmother’s brother, is still alive.
“I had an uncle who was one of the, part of the first American troops to go into Auschwitz and liberate the concentration camps,” Obama said in speech in New Mexico. “And the story in our family was, is that when he came home, he just went up into the attic, and he didn’t leave the house for six months.”
Obama was using the story to promote better benefits for troops.
“Now obviously, something had really affected him deeply, but at that time there just weren’t the kinds of facilities to help somebody work through that kind of pain,” Obama said.
“That’s why this idea of making sure that every single veteran, when they are discharged, are screened for post-traumatic stress disorder and given the mental health services that they need – that’s why it’s so important.”
The U.S. Army liberated the Nazi concentration camps of Buchenwald in Germany and Mauthausen-Gusen in Austria. Auschwitz is in southern Poland, which was occupied by troops from the neighboring Soviet Union in 1945.
The Ace of Spades blog, which first noticed the discrepancy, said, “Unless Obama’s ‘uncle’ was serving in the Red Army, it’s a pretty safe bet he was many hundreds of miles from Auschwitz on its day of liberation,”
“Look, we all know Obama has a problem with Jewish voters and veterans, but trying to use the Holocaust for political gain is sickening – especially when it is a bold-faced lie.”
Obama’s campaign did not return a phone call from WND requesting comment.
It wasn’t immediately clear which uncle Obama was referencing. His late father was Kenyan. Articles about his late mother, S. Ann Soetoro, state she was an only child and that her father was upset she wasn’t a boy.
Obama previously stated his maternal grandfather fought in World War II under legendary U.S. Army General George S. Patton, but he said his grandfather only “heard” stories of the liberation of Auschwitz:
“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,” Obama said in a 2002 anti-war speech.
“Maybe it was his grandfather who helped liberate Buchenwald with Patton and somehow that turned into a mysterious uncle liberating Auschwitz. But, er, how and why?” asked Hot Air.
But Obama also mentioned his grandfather yesterday in the same speech referencing his “uncle.”
“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,” Obama said.
Meanwhile, Obama’s tale about his “uncle” was reported as fact by the news media.
“Obama also spoke about his uncle, who was part of the American brigade that helped to liberate Auschwitz. He said the family legend is that, upon returning from war, his uncle spent six months in an attic,” reported CBS News.
A Washington Post blog post titled, “Obama speaks with ‘deep humility’ on Memorial Day” also reported about Obama’s uncle.
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