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Two for Tuesday - rewriting military history (update)
Posted by: McQ on Tuesday, May 27, 2008

You've probably already heard about this in all 57 states, but in case you missed it - or were one of the fallen heroes in Obama's New Mexico Memorial Day audience - we have a bit of revisionist history offered by Obama:
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.”
Auschwitz is in Poland. As most with even a passing familiarity with WWII history know, the US never got near Poland.
The Soviets liberated Auschwitz, the largest extermination and concentration camp, in January 1945.
In fact, the Americans liberated 5 concentration camps...
U.S. forces liberated the Buchenwald concentration camp near Weimar, Germany, on April 11, 1945, a few days after the Nazis began evacuating the camp. On the day of liberation, an underground prisoner resistance organization seized control of Buchenwald to prevent atrocities by the retreating camp guards. American forces liberated more than 20,000 prisoners at Buchenwald. They also liberated Dora-Mittelbau, Flossenbürg, Dachau, and Mauthausen.
... but Auschwitz wasn't among them. History and geography seem to be a bit of a deficiency in the Obama knowledge base.

UPDATE: The campaign's clarification.
 
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Buchenwald, Dora-Mittelbau, Flossenbürg, Dachau, and Mauthausen.
Um... That’s 5... :)

And Did his Grandfather help liberate any of them? I would ALMOST be willing to forgive the error if he just got the name wrong, as opposed to making it up entirely...
 
Written By: Scott Jacobs
URL: http://
I wonder how many "old timers" were in the audience saying to themselves, "what is this guy talking about?"
 
Written By: Buffoon
URL: http://www.dequalss.com/wp/
Damn, if he did make this up, and his grandfather didn’t help to liberate any of the other camps, this is one of the most outrageous and enraging lies I’ve ever heard. But for the moment I’m willing to give him the benefit of the doubt, since I actually have trouble believing that anyone (not even a Democrat ;-)) would steep so low as to fabricate such a claim purely for political reasons.

If he did lie about this, this could become a dent in his political armor the size of Rev Wright
 
Written By: ishopphotos
URL: http://
Did his Grandfather help liberate any of them?
That’s the big question here.

I would vote for Hillary over Obama, and for just about anyone else over Hillary. But this story isn’t a big deal if Obama just got the camp wrong.
 
Written By: Don
URL: http://
But for the moment I’m willing to give him the benefit of the doubt, since I actually have trouble believing that anyone (not even a Democrat ;-)) would steep so low as to fabricate such a claim purely for political reasons.
Sort of an "Xmas in Cambodia" moment . . .
 
Written By: Don
URL: http://
According to an Obama spokesman, his great-uncle helped liberate Ohrduf.

 
Written By: JWG
URL: http://
Um... That’s 5... :)
Er, yeah, it is.
 
Written By: McQ
URL: http://www.QandO.net
According to an Obama spokesman, his great-uncle helped liberate Ohrduf.
Which is one of the sub-camps of Buchenwald.
 
Written By: McQ
URL: http://www.QandO.net
Honestly, I can see even myself saying Auschwitz instead of Buchenwald...

If only because I would doubt the people listening would know what Buchenwald was. Everyone who isn’t a COMPLETE moron knows what Auschwitz was...

Even I can only name Dachau, Auschwitz, and Buchenwald without looking others up...
 
Written By: Scott Jacobs
URL: http://
You know, I’m likely to give Barry the benefit of the doubt on this (I agree with Scott’s last point), except for the fact that this isn’t the first time he’s made this "mistake" http://www.transterrestrial.com/archives/2008/05/its_nothing_new.html
 
Written By: Marco
URL: http://
Honestly, I can see even myself saying Auschwitz instead of Buchenwald...
Not if it is family history that you care about.

I would never say, for instance, that my dad landed on Iwo Jima. He didn’t. He landed on Saipan. But hey, they’re both islands in the Pacific.
 
Written By: McQ
URL: http://www.QandO.net
What do you expect when Obama is busy watching ‘SportsCenter’
Along the way, some unofficial rules have emerged between the candidate and his aide. From Mr. Obama: “One cardinal rule of the road is, we don’t watch CNN, the news or MSNBC. We don’t watch any talking heads or any politics. We watch ‘SportsCenter’ and argue about that.”
 
Written By: Neo
URL: http://
I would submit that Obama’s uncle or great uncle were typical white men...they simply lied to Obama about their exploits, most likely to cause him embarassment later in life. You know how white people can be.
 
Written By: Joe
URL: http://
57 states, 57 varieties, heinz , etc.

it fits :)
 
Written By: capt joe
URL: http://
Not if it is family history that you care about.
True...

But weren’t these the racists? Like he was paying attention... :)
 
Written By: Scott Jacobs
URL: http://
Just so we have the ground rules straight, my understanding now is that not knowing the differences between Sunni and Shia and al Qaeda and Iran are not relevant to whether one is qualififed to be president, but confusing Buchenwald with Auschwitz is.

Glad we got that straight.

The hypocrisy is once against familiar, and amusing. Thanks, McQ!
 
Written By: mkultra
URL: http://
Not if it is family history that you care about.
That’s not necessarily true.
For years I thought my grandfather served WWI US Army, when he actually served WWI US Marine Corps.

I honestly don’t know where or when I went wrong. Perhaps I heard a relative make the mistake and it just stuck. Perhaps there was a discussion about the army and my grandfather’s name came up. I don’t know. But to say that making a mistake about some details in one’s family history means one doesn’t care about it is a bit broad.

My grandfather died when I was a young man. I never really got a chance to sit and chat with the man after I became interested in my heritage. Shame really, on my part.

Even today, after learning he was a Marine not an Army man, I still catch myself making that mistake.

BTW, anyone know how one goes about tracking down old, and I mean old, records from Parris Island? Is it even possible?

Cheers.
 
Written By: PogueMahone
URL: http://
[quote]Just so we have the ground rules straight, my understanding now is that not knowing the differences between Sunni and Shia and al Qaeda and Iran are not relevant to whether one is qualififed to be president, but confusing Buchenwald with Auschwitz is.

Glad we got that straight.

The hypocrisy is once against familiar, and amusing. Thanks, McQ![/quote]
confusing shia and sunni is a common enough mistake, whereas inventing a familial war hero who liberated Holocaust survivors to pander to the jewish vote is downright despicable. You’re saying someone’s honest mistake is comperable to another person’s outrageous lie about the Holocaust? Or are you only willing to go to bat for those you’re currently backing, swallowing every drop of Kool-Aid given?

And weren’t you asked never to return again?
 
Written By: Joel C.
URL: http://
But to say that making a mistake about some details in one’s family history means one doesn’t care about it is a bit broad.
Not if part of the story involved being somewhere that should have been obviously historically impossible.

The first time Obama told the story (2002) it was his grandfather who "heard the stories of fellow troops who first entered Auschwitz and Treblinka."

Then it became his uncle who was physically there in Poland, rather than hearing about it.

Now it’s his great-uncle who was in Germany.

It seems to me that if you’re going to use a story about your family history to make a point, it should be historically possible, and it shouldn’t change from "hearing about an event" to actually being there.
 
Written By: JWG
URL: http://
Ah, so this is what a bankrupt political philosophy looks like. Going to get smoked on the issues, so let’s feign outrage over an innocent mistake. It worked before, maybe the Right can milk it one more time, for old times sake. Lord knows they’ll get beaten like Rented Mules if they try to talk about their "ideas".
 
Written By: Pedro the Illegal Alien
URL: http://microsoft.com
What we have here is Obama trying desperately to establish a link between himself and the military. Telling, that he fails so badly at it...

 
Written By: Bithead
URL: http://bitsblog.florack.us
BTW, anyone know how one goes about tracking down old, and I mean old, records from Parris Island? Is it even possible?
Pogue: Contact the Parris Island Historical Office. Every major unit has a unit historian and that person has access to all previous histories produced by the unit. I did some research on my Grandfather’s service in WWI and went through the Historian’s office at Fort Bragg. Give it a shot - if anything else, they can point you in the right direction.

 
Written By: SShiell
URL: http://
Thanks SShiell. I will.

Cheers.
 
Written By: PogueMahone
URL: http://
Perhaps he assumed that, since Auschwitz is the German name for the German camp run by Germans, it is located in Germany. If it was commonly referred to as Oswiecm(?), the Polish name, the error might not have been made. It really doesn’t seem to be that big a deal to me. I would be willing to bet that the vast majority of people in this country would also assume that all the camps were in Germany. Does anyone here know, off the top of their head, where all the camps were located? How many there were? Theriesenstadt, for example?

I knew a girl once who told me her father had seen a Japanese submarine on the surface during Operation Torch. Knowing this was extremely unlikely, I queried her further, and she swore that is what he told her, and gave me more details. My inlaws, who also served in WWII, have also told me some unlikely stories. This is oral history, folks, not official documents. The outrage is a little overdone.
 
Written By: timactual
URL: http://
The "outrage" (at least for me) deals with
1) the story has changed at least 3 times since he used it in 2002
2) he is obviously ignorant of basic US history
3) he is using the story as a means to portray soldiers as victims
4) he is using the story as a means to portray himself as having some connection with soldiers
 
Written By: JWG
URL: http://
Excellent list, JWG.

Obama is not regaling acquaintances in a bar; Obama is making speeches to Americans while campaigning for President of the United States.
 
Written By: huxley
URL: http://
Huxley, thank you for saying what I was thinking.

this would matter to the press, if the Republicans were doing it as frequently as Hillary and Obama are doing it.
 
Written By: looker
URL: http://
)" he is obviously ignorant of basic US history"

’basic’?? Trivial, more like arcane US history. Do you know which US units liberated which camps, and where they were located? Why is this ’basic’ history not taught in schools?

"he is using the story as a means to portray soldiers as victims"

Describing the suffering and sacrifice of veterans by using examples on Memorial Day. How unusual. How unseemly.

4) "he is using the story as a means to portray himself as having some connection with soldiers"

Another long standing and hallowed practice among US politicians of both parties. Shocking.

I think there is enough damaging material out there without resorting to hysterical overreaction.
 
Written By: timactual
URL: http://
I think there is enough damaging material out there without resorting to hysterical overreaction.
I agree, tim. Obama opened his mouth and once again stuck his foot into it. His comment had no effects on policy, foreign or domestic. His comment would not be construed as lying under oath in any court for perjury. His comment, in and of itself, was fairly innocuous. And some of the reactions have been somewhat over the top.

Except it is one of a long list of comments that makes one pause to consider his abilities and his knowledge of the world around us. I have many stories about my Father and Grandfather and their exploits during the world wars. None of them are of combat or of the horrible sights, sounds, and feelings they experienced. All of them were remembrances of their comrades in arms. Humorous stories of young men being young men and the many ways they can get themselves into trouble - good and bad. Their recollections of the horrors of war they have kept to themsleves, holding them close to their hearts and only allowing a vague hint to the loved ones around them of the existance of those memories. My reaction to my Father and Grandfather has been to honor their service and to respect their memories by not prying onto them.

My problem with Obama’s comments were his disrespect of his relatives’ sensitivities by revealing such experiences to the world. It makes me wonder what his Great Uncle would say if he heard his experences being told to the masses - for political gain. It make me also wonder if there is anything this man will not say in order to achieve his goal - the Presidency.
 
Written By: SShiell
URL: http://
Do you know which US units liberated which camps, and where they were located?
Good grief. I know that the difference between Poland and Germany. The students read and discuss Anne Frank ad nauseum where I teach, so they have some knowledge that camps where spread over different parts of Europe. The fact that the Soviets controlled Poland after WWII is a fairly basic bit of knowledge as well. It should be expected that someone who goes to undergrad at Columbia University majoring in political science with a specialization in international relations in the early 80’s during Reagan’s first presidential term would know that Poland was controlled by the Soviets, nyet?
 
Written By: JWG
URL: http://
"Except it is one of a long list of comments..."

No argument, there, but rather trivial in itself, which is my point.

" My problem with Obama’s comments were his disrespect of his relatives’ sensitivities..."

Now that is an argument I can get behind. Everything and everyone seems to be fodder for his ambition.


"Good grief. I know that the difference between Poland and Germany....."

Good, but that wasn’t the question.

" It should be expected that someone who goes to undergrad at Columbia University majoring in political science with a specialization in international relations in the early 80’s during Reagan’s first presidential term would know that Poland was controlled by the Soviets, nyet?"

True, but that wasn’t the question either.
 
Written By: timactual
URL: http://
but that wasn’t the question
Then your question is irrelevant to the issue. No one needs to know every detail of troop deployment to know that the Soviets took Poland, and that *THE* most infamous camp was in Poland.
 
Written By: JWG
URL: http://

 
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