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The Nazi death camp that Barack Obama's great-uncle helped liberate

May 27, 2008 |  4:21 pm

Barack Obama, at a Memorial Day event in Las Cruces, N.M., credited his great-uncle, Charlie Payne, as being among the U.S. troops who liberated the Nazi concentration camp Auschwitz.

Remains at Buchenwald concentration camp

The trouble with that bit of history -- as the Republican National Committee pointed out today -- is that the Soviet Red Army was the military force that liberated the World War II death camp.

The RNC seized the opportunity to fire off a news release, saying that “unless his uncle was serving in the Red Army, there’s no way Obama’s statement yesterday can be true. Obama’s frequent exaggerations and outright distortions raise questions about his judgment and his readiness to lead as commander in chief.”

The Obama campaign soon acknowledged that the Democratic candidate made a mistake. It explained that Obama’s great-uncle was in the 89th Infantry Division that helped liberate another notorious death camp, Buchenwald. Obama, the campaign said, “is proud of the service of his grandfather and uncles in World War II -- especially the fact that his great-uncle was part of liberating of one of the concentration camps at Buchenwald.”

All of which raises the question: What's worse, Obama's apparent gaffe or the RNC pouncing on a Holocaust-related historical mistake for political advantage?

-- Stuart Silverstein

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