Obama's great-uncle recalls liberating Nazi camp

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Charles T. Payne had his first close brush with history at the end of World War II, when his infantry division liberated Ohrdruf, a subcamp of the Nazis' Buchenwald concentration camp.

Now 83, Payne is experiencing a second brush as the great-uncle of Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama.

Payne spoke to The Associated Press Tuesday as Obama, on the other side of the world, prepared to visit the Yad Vashem national Holocaust memorial in Jerusalem.

In May, Obama mentioned"Uncle Charlie" at a meeting with veterans but mistakenly said Payne had helped liberate Auschwitz, when he should have said Buchenwald. Bloggers seized on the error and the Republican Party demanded an explanation.

Obama's campaign corrected the mistake the next day. Soviet forces liberated Auschwitz as they marched across Poland in January 1945.

Payne, with an Obama button pinned to his shirt, told the AP he was"truly astonished" by the attention paid to Obama's flub. The brother of Obama's maternal grandmother, Payne figures Obama heard the story wrong from his grandparents,"whose grasp of geography wasn't always the firmest." He said at the time he asked friends if he should"try to set the record straight," but that they advised him to ignore it.

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