Obama: My Uncle Helped Liberate Auschwitz (Bzzt! Wrong!) - Update: Video Added
Is there a point at which the media will start calling Barack Obama out for his absolutely stunning lack of historical knowledge, and his willingness to lie at the drop of a hat? Obama Talks of Family’s Military Service.
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. “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.”
Unless Obama’s uncle was fighting for the Soviet Army in January 1945, I seriously doubt that he was in a brigade that liberated Auschwitz: The Liberation of Auschwitz.
UPDATE at 5/27/08 9:48:24 am:
Jim Geraghty thinks Obama wasn’t really lying here; it was just another gaffe.
But what kind of “mistake” is it to make up an (apparently) nonexistent uncle, and attribute heroic actions to this nonexistent person that they could not possibly have performed? And what kind of person would give a speech to veterans on Memorial Day—and make up a phony war story?
Definitely not just a gaffe; rather, a deliberate attempt to invoke the name of Auschwitz for political gain.
UPDATE at 5/27/08 10:47:54 am:
Here’s the video:
Uh … I had a … uncle who was one of the … uh … who was part of … the first American troops to go into Auschwitz, and liberate the concentration camps. And the story in our family was is that when he came home, he just went up into the … into the attic, and he didn’t leave the house for six months.
UPDATE at 5/27/08 11:08:13 am:
This digression into fantasy was apparently not in Obama’s prepared speech: Barack Obama : : Change We Can Believe In | Sam Graham-Felsen’s Blog: Obama on Memorial Day: ‘Their lives are a model for us all’.
(Hat tip: WriterMom.)
UPDATE at 5/27/08 2:16:45 pm:
The Obama campaign responds: Obama’s World War II history.
Bill Burton says [Obama’s] 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.