WaPo Gives Obama 'Three Pinocchios' for Uncle Liberated Auschwitz Gaffe

The Washington Post's "Fact Checker" blog has given Democrat presidential candidate Barack Obama three Pinocchios (significant factual error and/or obvious contradiction) for his bogus claim that one of his uncles helped liberate the Nazi concentration camp Auschwitz.

This is down from the four Pinocchios (whopper!) fact checker Michael Dobbs originally gave the junior senator from Illinois for his Memorial Day misstatement reported by NewsBusters just hours ago.

As Dobbs accurately noted (emphasis added, picture courtesy Washington Post):

Auschwitz is located in southern Poland, near the city of Krakow. It was liberated by the Red Army on January 27, 1945. At the time, U.S. armies were still on the western borders of Germany, a thousand miles away, regrouping after the Battle of the Bulge. The Americans had not even crossed the Rhine at this point.

The Obama campaign now says that Obama was referring to his great-uncle on his mother's side, and the camp in question was not Auschwitz, but Ohrdruf, which was part of the Buchenwald camp system in Lower Saxony [Germany]. Ohrdruf was the first camp to be liberated by the Americans on April 4, 1945, and it was visited a week later by Generals Eisenhower, Patton, and Bradley. Eisenhower later wrote to his wife that he "never dreamed that such cruelty, bestiality and savagery could really exist in this world." [...]

Granted, it is getting late in the campaign. The candidates are tired, and prone to making silly mistakes. Many Americans might have problems distinguishing Buchenwald and Ohrdruf from Auschwitz. But should we not expect more from a Harvard-educated presidential candidate? Is it too much to ask that an aspiring commander-in-chief knows (1) that Auschwitz (like many of the other Nazi death camps) is in Poland, and (2) that the eastern advance of the U.S. Army in World War II stopped on the river Elbe? Let me know what you think.

The Pinocchio Test

Before hearing from the Obama campaign, I gave the candidate four Pinocchios for this howler. I am subtracting one Pinocchio in view of the explanation that Obama confused the two concentration camps and that the underlying story was accurate. Three Pinocchios for "significant factual errors."

I'm sorry, Mike, but I've got to disagree with your decision to subtract a Pinocchio. After all, referring to Ohrdruf as Auschwitz is like a fisherman telling his grandson the snapper he caught on a recent fishing trip was a marlin!

Other than these camps being in different countries, let's understand that Auschwitz was the largest Nazi concentration, and possessed the following almost unimaginable statistics (emphasis added):

The Auschwitz concentration camp complex was the largest of its kind established by the Nazi regime. It included three main camps, all of which deployed incarcerated prisoners at forced labor. One of them also functioned for an extended period as a killing center. The camps were located approximately 37 miles west of Krakow, near the prewar German-Polish border in Upper Silesia, an area that Nazi Germany annexed in 1939 after invading and conquering Poland. The SS authorities established three main camps near the Polish city of Oswiecim: Auschwitz I in May 1940; Auschwitz II (also called Auschwitz-Birkenau) in early 1942; and Auschwitz III (also called Auschwitz-Monowitz) in October 1942. [...]

In total, approximately 1.1 million Jews were deported to Auschwitz. SS and police authorities deported approximately 200,000 other victims to Auschwitz, including 140,000-150,000 non-Jewish Poles, 23,000 Roma and Sinti (Gypsies), 15,000 Soviet prisoners of war, and 25,000 others (Soviet civilians, Lithuanians, Czechs, French, Yugoslavs, Germans, Austrians, and Italians). [...]

At least 960,000 Jews were killed in Auschwitz. Other victims included approximately 74,000 Poles, 21,000 Roma (Gypsies), and 15,000 Soviet prisoners of war; and 10,000-15,000 members of other nationalities (Soviet civilians, Czechs, Yugoslavs, French, Germans, and Austrians).

Let's compare this to Ohrdruf (emphasis added):

Created in November 1944 near the town of Gotha, Germany, Ohrdruf supplied forced labor in the form of concentration camp prisoners for railway construction leading to a proposed communications center, which was never completed due to the rapid American advance. In late March 1945, the camp had a prisoner population of some 11,700, but in early April the SS evacuated almost all the prisoners on death marches to Buchenwald. The SS guards killed many of the remaining prisoners who were too ill to walk to the railcars.

With all due respect, Mr. Dobbs, Ohrdruf had a population of 11,700 prisoners while the gas chambers of Auschwitz killed 1 million innocent people. Comparing the two is an insult to mankind.

As such, I think you ought to add TWO Pinocchios for this disgraceful whopper by Obama.

Unfortunately, it seems likely mainstream media will use similar disgusting tactics to protect St. Obama from the scrutiny this incident deserves.

How sad. 

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Campaigns & Elections 2008 Presidential Washington Post Michael Dobbs
Noel Sheppard's picture