Hat tip to Sadly, No! for finding this.
You know it's silly season when Republican wingnuts start questioning the service of veterans, and start arguing that some Nazi concentration camps weren't all that bad (since the deaths were merely in the tens of thousands).
And now it's become even funnier. This idiot right winger Steve Gilbert, hot on the trail of the "truth" regarding Obama's great uncle's service liberating Buchenwald, wrote to WWII vet Raymond Kitchell and his son Mark Kitchell, who together run a site dedicated to the 89th Infantry.
What has ensued is a total pwning and smack-down the likes of which only a WWII vet can deliver.
Here was Gilbert's letter:
—– Original Message —–
From: Steve Gilbert
Sent: Wednesday, May 28, 2008 6:14 AM
Subject: Any Record Of Charles W Payne?
As you may have heard by now, Barack Obama has claimed that his great uncle Charlie Payne was a member of the 89th Div that liberated Buchenwald.
According to records his full name is either Charles W Payne or Charles T Payne (most likely the former), and he was born in 1924 — and he is still alive today.
He most likely was from Kansas at the time of enlistment.
Do you have any record of this gentleman?
PS - If you go to my website, you will see that I was probably the first to note the error in Mr. Obama’s first claims about his “uncle.”
The response by WWII vet Raymond Kitchell:
Please crawl back under the rock you came out from.
Raymond Kitchell, veteran 89th Inf Div
But Gilbert stumbled out for round two, by challenging the integrity of Kitchell and his website:
S&L has exchanged correspondence with a site claiming to support Obama's position. The emails make the site seem dubious, at best.
To which Kitchell wrote back:
To: Steve Gilbert
Subject: Re: Any Record Of Charles W Payne?
I don’t claim to represent anyone. You are the one who came to my son and I asking for information.
Please spend ample time chasing down the lies fed to you by chickenhawks Bush & Co. Like 90% of this administration, they don’t have the foggiest idea what we went through or what we saw at Ohrdruf.
Instead of tucking his tail between his legs, or at least shutting up, the brave Gilbert posted another snide comment on his site. Remember, he's talking about a WWII vet here:
I wonder how many people who visit the 89th Infantry site and support Mr. Kitchell’s work realize his politics are those of Cindy Sheehan?
Instead of continuing this lame back-and-forth with idiot Gilbert, WWII vet Kitchell posted this on the front page of his 89th Infantry website:
Concerning the service of Mr. Charles Payne: C.T. Payne was a soldier in the 89th Infantry Division. He served in the 355th Infantry Regiment, Company K. The 355th Infantry Regiment was the unit to liberate Ohrdruf. Mr. Payne was there.
For those who seek to minimize the horrors of Ohrdruf since it was a 'work' camp and not a 'death' camp, we have but one word: shame. Ironically, this argument has been made to us time and time again by various Holocaust-deniers and other pro-Nazi groups. We will let the testimony of survivors and veterans speak for themselves.
"It has been recorded that in Ordruf itself the last days were a slaughterhouse. We were shot at, beaten and molested. At every turn went on the destruction of the remaining inmates. Indiscriminant criminal behavior (like the murderers of Oklahoma City some days ago). Some days before the first Americans appeared at the gates of Ordruf, the last retreating Nazi guards managed to execute with hand pistols, literally emptying their last bullets on whomever they encountered leaving them bleeding to death as testified by an American of the 37th Tank Battalion Medical section, 10 a.m. April 4, 1945.
Today I'm privileged thanks to G-d and you gallant fighting men. I'm here to reminisce, and reflect, and experience instant recollections of those moments. Those horrible scenes and that special instance when an Allied soldier outstretched his arm to help me up became my re-entrance, my being re-invited into humanity and restoring my inalienable right to a dignified existence as a human being and as a Jew. Something, which was denied me from September 1939 to the day of liberation in 1945. I had no right to live and survived, out of 80 members of my family, the infernal ordeal of Auschwitz, Buchenwald, Ordruf, and its satellite camp Crawinkle and finally Theresinstadt Ghetto-Concentration Camp."
Rabbi Murray Kohn
Not only does he smack down the claims of Gilbert and his ilk, he righteously points out that their mindset is the same one embraced by Holocaust deniers and neo-Nazis. Right wing bloggers should know better than to engage in such fights. They will always lose.
And that completes this week's edition of WWII vets vs. 101st Fighting Keyboarders.
I would just like to add one thing regarding this whole phony controversy about Obama's "gaffe". Unlike John McCain's many gaffes regarding things he should know from his own experiences (as opposed to events in the 1910s), Obama made a very simple mistake about something that happened 16 years before he was born. He was speaking off the cuff at a Q&A, about some family lore passed down to him (probably indirectly, as his great-uncle is probably reluctant to talk about the horrors he saw at Buchenwald).
My grandfather served in World War II. He was an ace pilot, flying a P-51 Mustang. His name is on this list. But while I spoke with him about his war experiences before he passed away, and have heard some war stories from my dad, to this day I wouldn't be able to account for exactly where he flew and when. I could guess that he flew missions over Germany or Italy or North Africa, but maybe his missions were confined to France. I'm sure a WWII historian could point out where the P-51s flew, where they didn't, and could correct me in any misconceptions. But whether I, Obama, or any American make a simple mistake about family history, it doesn't detract from the bigger truth. My grandfather was a war hero. Obama's grandfather and great-uncle were war heroes. For goodness' sake, Obama's great uncle helped liberate a concentration camp. That is something to applaud, not to question.
And I know that if some right wing blogger tried to attack me by questioning my grandfather's service, I would hope that a WWII vet would do like Raymond Kitchell and put them firmly in their place.
Eisenhower, Patton and Bradley all recalled Ohrdruf in their memoirs. "I have never been able to describe my emotional reactions," Eisenhower wrote, "when I came face to face with indisputable evidence of Nazi brutality and ruthless disregard of every shred of decency. I visited every nook and cranny of the camp because I felt it was my duty to be in a position from then on to testify at first hand in case there ever was at home the belief or the assumption that the stories of Nazi brutality were just propaganda. I would like every American unit not actually in the front line to see this place. We are told that the American soldier doesn't know what he is fighting for. Now, at least, he will know what he is fighting against."
Bradley was more emotional: "The smell of death overwhelmed us even before we passed through the stockade. More than 3,200 emanciated bodies had been flung into shallow graves. Others lay in the streets where they had fallen. Lice crawled over the yellow skin of their sharp bony frames." He related how starving prisoners had apparently torn out the entrails of the dead for food.
Patton, known for both toughness and military scholarship but later accused of being soft on Nazis, described Ohrdruf as "one of the most appalling sights I have ever seen…words are inadequate to express the horror of this institution. The scenes witnessed here are beyond the normal mind to believe. No race except a people dominated by an ideology of sadism could have committed such gruesome crimes…even those (inmates) who live in my opinion will never recover mentally."
This was the first camp to be "liberated" by the Allied armies in Germany. Orhdruf was visited by Generals Eisenhower, Patton and Bradley and there are photographs of them observing the bodies of the machine-gunned inmates. According to Eisenhower, Patton had refused to visit the punishment shed, as he feared he would become ill. He did vomit at a later time.
Further into the camp was evidence of an attempt to exhume and burn large numbers of bodies. There was a gallows, although I really cannot remember whether I saw it or not. I don't remember leaving the camp. I recall being numb after seeing the camp.
Anything that can make General Patton vomit must be too horrible for words. The 101st Fighting Keyboarders have tried to claim Patton as one of their own, but I think he would react even more harshly than Kitchell on this one.
From a survivor:
I awoke in a hospital. As soon as I opened my eyes the nurse ran to get the waiting American officers and their press corps. I was taken back to the Concentration Camp Ohrdruf by jeep in a convoy headed by Generals Eisenhower and Bradley themselves. Several survivors and myself gave General Eisenhower and his men a personal tour of the horrors, which you had discovered at Ohrdruf.
I never forgot how General Eisenhower kept rubbing his hands together as we spoke of the horrors inflicted upon us and the piles of our dead comrades. He insisted on seeing it all, hearing it all, learning it all. He knew!! General Eisenhower knew. He wanted to have it recorded and filmed for the future. He said that sometime in the future there may come a time when people will say it never happened that way -- it's an exaggeration, it's propaganda, it was just the end results of war. Well, the time is now, only 50 years later. There are those who would tell you WWII of the 89th Division that what you saw at Ohrdruf and at other camps never happened the way you said it did. The atrocities never happened. The tortures. The hangings. The starvation. The brutality. It never happened and YOU NEVER SAW IT!! They would take your fight for goodness and freedom and call it futile, worthless. Your sacrifices would have no meaning if all that you fought for were nothing more than a tale of someone's imaginings!
But, we were there. I, the victim. You, the liberators. I, the survivor. You, the witnesses. And together we must, in our golden years on this earth, again do battle with the forces of man's worst evil so that what I and you lived through 50 years ago, what we say, will not be tossed aside as insignificant in the annals of man's history. It must be made so important that no one can ever say it didn't happen that way and therefore they could be allowed to repeat it.
And to think -- a right wing blogger actually has the nerve to question the integrity of the veteran who created this website. The RNC and their lackeys in the right wing blogs are showing their true colors by exploiting the heroism of veterans and the horrors of the Holocaust for political gain.
(cross-posted at Old Man McCain)