He is a member of the ‘Greatest Generation’. Charlie Payne is also the great uncle of Barack Obama. Read his biography below, see photos and watch a video.

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Charlie Payne (L), Barack Obama’s Great Uncle

Great uncle Charles Payne is the 84 year old brother of Barack Obama’s late grandmother, Madelyn Dunham. Charlie was a private first class in the 89th Infantry Division during World War II. In April of 1945, the 89th Infantry participated in the liberation of Ohrdruf, a forced-labor camp, that was a satellite site of the infamous Buchenwald concentration camp. An estimated 56,000 people were killed there. Charlie Payne will join Barack Obama at the 65th Anniversary of D-Day commemorative events in Normandy, France.

During the presidential campaign, you may remember that The One ‘misspoke’ and said his uncle Charles Payne had helped liberate Auschwitz, not Ohrdruf camp in Buchenwald. Well recently in an interview with German magazine ‘Der Spiegel,’ uncle Charles Payne suggested that his nephew’s trip to Buchenwald was purely political.

“This is a trip that he chose, not because of me I’m sure, but for political reasons,” he said.


Charles Payne Biography

Charlie Payne was born in Kansas in 1925. His age is 84. He is the great uncle of Barack Obama; being the younger brother of Obama’s maternal grandmother Madelyn Dunham.

Charles Payne served during World War II in the U.S. Army 89th Infantry Division. Barack Obama has often described Charlie Payne’s role in liberating Ohrdruf, a forced labor satellite camp of Buchenwald, where an estimated 56,000 people died. Buchenwald prisoners were being used there at Ohrdruf to dig a labyrinth of tunnels and bunkers to house Hitler and the Nazi leadership should Berlin have to be evacuated.

“I remember seeing a lot of really emaciated people in rags at the point of starvation. People were clutching tin cups for food,” Payne said. “I saw sheds where dead bodies had been stacked up.”

After the war, Charlie Payne returned home to the USA and received a degree in engineering from Kansas State University. He made his home in Chicago in 1960, where he still lives today. He served as the assistant director of the University of Chicago’s Library for many years until his retirement in 1995.

His great grand nephew, Barack Obama used his uncle Charlie’s ‘experiences’ during WWII to enhance his own personal life history by misspeaking as to which concentration camp Charlie helped liberate and saying:

“My own great-uncle returned from his service in World War II in a state of shock, saying little, alone with painful memories that would not leave his head. He went up into the attic, according to the stories that I’ve heard, and wouldn’t come down for six months.”

But Charlie Payne, a member of the Greatest Generation, says he handled the experience pretty well actually. “This was the middle of the war that had a lot of difficult things,” he said. “I haven’t thought about any of this for years.”

More photos and a video from ‘Charles Payne is Barack Obama’s Great Uncle’ are below.

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Charles Payne, Barack Obama’s Great Uncle Family Photos

Charles Payne, Barack Obama’s Great Uncle Video
‘Obama in Germany: The Buchenwald Concentration Camp near Weimar’