He had a uncle

Click on graphics to embiggen.

May 2008: Senator Obama campaigning in NM

Transcript: “I had a uncle [sic] who was part of the first American troops to go into Auschwitz and liberate the concentration camps. The story in our family was that when he came home, he just went up into the attic and he didn’t leave the house for six months.”

Ralph Dunham, Barack Obama’s great-uncle

Obama’s mother was an only child. He did not have any American uncles. He did have a great-uncle, 2LT Ralph Dunham, who was a personnel officer in the U.S. Army during World War II.

Ralph’s war was spent doing paperwork, keeping track of soldiers and making sure they got paid. He arrived at Omaha Easy Red beach four days after the Normandy invasion, by which time the area was secure.

D Day Plus Four

He said he never saw direct combat, though his unit was “bombed a few times.” The only mention of his time in Europe says that he “pushed through France, Italy and Germany.” It’s a little hard to fathom how an American soldier who landed on Omaha Beach managed to spend any time in Italy. France and Germany, certainly. But not Italy.

One thing is certain. He did NOT help liberate the concentration camp at Auschwitz as Obama claimed in New Mexico in 2008. Auschwitz was liberated on January 27, 1945 by the 322nd Rifle Division of the Soviet Army.

Auschwitz haunts Soviet veteran

The United States Holocaust Memorial Museum and the Center of Military History credits American troops with the liberation of Nazi concentration camps at Buchenwald, Dachau, Flossenbürg, Mauthausen, Neuengamme and Dora-Mittelbau.

There is a 3 minute video about the Soviet, American, British and Canadian liberation of the camps @
http://www.ushmm.org/wlc/en/media_nm.php?ModuleId=10005131&MediaId=7826

It’s possible Obama’s great-uncle witnessed and was traumatized by the liberation of some other concentration camp, though one might suppose that an event of this historic magnitude, that was allegedly burned into the Dunham family lore by Uncle Ralph’s alleged Post Traumatic Stress, would have included the name of the actual camp or been worthy of mention in the interview the man gave after his grand-nephew got famous.

To access the video, click on this link, then click on the photo of Ralph Dunham:

http://hosted.ap.org/specials/interactives/wdc/obama_family_service/obama_family_service.swf

Sources:
http://familypedia.wikia.com/wiki/Ralph_Dunham_%281917%29

http://usmilitary.about.com/od/officerj3/a/0170.htm

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Auschwitz_concentration_camp

http://www.ushmm.org/wlc/en/article.php?ModuleId=10006161

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Normandy_landings#Omaha_Beach

http://genealogy.about.com/od/aframertrees/p/obama_two.htm

1 Comment

Filed under Armed Forces, Barack Obama, History, World War II

One response to “He had a uncle

  1. chrissythehyphenated

    I think it’s interesting to compare the demeanor of the old Russian man who really did liberate a concentration camp with that of Ralph Dunham when he was interviewed. I’m sorry I can’t embed the latter. It’s not at YouTube, just the site I linked to.

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