Relatives

Obama's Great-Uncle Speaks

One of President Obama’s campaign gaffes was when he announced that his great uncle had helped to liberate Auschwitz (the camp was liberated by the Red Army). The uncle, it turned out, liberated a camp at Buchenwald, and he speaks to Der Spiegel in advance of President Obama’s trip to the camp in June. “I was quite surprised when the whole thing came up and Barack talked about my war experiences in Nazi Germany,” says Charles Payne. “We had never talked about that before” Asked about his experience, Payne says, “I am unable to tell you what I was thinking then. That was a long time ago, and as I told you, until Barack misspoke, I hadn't thought about any of this for a very, very long time. In fact, I guess I prefer not to think about it. I can assure you I was horrified by the lengths to which men will go to mistreat other men. This was, to me, almost unbelievable. There was more: There were sheds full of dead bodies that had been stripped and thrown in and then stacked up on top of each other. I don't know how many, but many high and the whole length of the room. They sprinkled lime to keep the smell down. That's about the extent that I remember actually seeing.”