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'WW II claim was Obama's error'

Barack Obama's Camp admits that Obama did blunder, after a campaign flap blows up over his claim that an uncle helped liberate the Nazi death camp at Auschwitz.
AFP | By HT Correspondent, Washington
UPDATED ON MAY 28, 2008 01:07 PM IST

Barack Obama's camp admitted the Democratic hopeful made a mistake, after a campaign flap blew up over his claim that an uncle helped liberate the Nazi death camp at Auschwitz.

The comment, on Monday, sparked a torrent of attacks by the Republican party and conservative bloggers, who tried to portray the Illinois senator as naive and prone to gaffes and exaggerations.

The Republican National Committee (RNC), already training its fire on Obama, pointed out that Auschwitz, in Poland, was in fact liberated by the Soviet Red Army in 1945, not United States forces.

"Obama's frequent exaggerations and outright distortions raise questions about his judgment and his readiness to lead as commander in chief," RNC spokesman Alex Conant said in a statement on Wednesday.

Obama's campaign spokesman Bill Burton then issued a statement saying that Obama's great uncle was in fact part of a unit that freed inmates at a subcamp of the concentration camp at Buchenwald in Germany, and not Auschwitz.

"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 said.

Obama's great uncle Charles Payne, his grandmother's brother, was a member of the US 89th infantry division.

The candidate brought up the story on Monday, the Memorial Day holiday when US war dead are honoured, to relate the harrowing personal toll many veterans pay when they return home from traumatic foreign wars.

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