The screening was co-sponsored by WNET, PBS’s local affiliate and the film’s primary financial sponsor, and the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Council. Directed by William Miles and Nina Rosenblum and with narration by Denzel Washington and Lou Gossett Jr., “Liberators” was broadcast two days later on Veterans Day on “The American Experience,” with Leon Bass in a starring role.
On December 17, 1992 at the Apollo Theater in Harlem, Jesse Jackson, Congressman Charles Rangel and Manhattan District Attorney Robert Morgenthau hosted another showing of “Liberators” for an audience of 1,200 influential blacks and Jews.
This screening, which was also broadcast on WNET, was actually a Democratic campaign rally for Mayor Dinkins, who was facing a difficult re-match in November 1993 against Republican Rudy Giuliani. Elie Wiesel, who wasn’t in the film, sent a videotaped message to the Apollo and WNET audiences.
But on February 11, 1993, after vociferous protests from the genuine liberators of Buchenwald (Sixth Armored and 80th Infantry divisions) and Dachau (42nd and 45th Infantry divisions), and the superb reporting of print journalists Arnold Fine of The Jewish Press, Christopher Ruddy, Jeffrey Goldberg and the late Eric Breindel, along with radio talk show hosts Bob Grant and the late Barry Gray, WNET withdrew “Liberators” from the airwaves and commissioned an independent investigation.
My late father, Barney Schulte, recipient of the Bronze Star, fought with General Patton’s crack Sixth Armored Division between November 1944 and May 1945, and my first of many articles about the scandal was published in The New York Jewish Week on February 19, 1993.
In September 1993, WNET released the results of the “Liberators” investigation, which conceded that black GIs did not participate in the liberation of Buchenwald or Dachau. However, the 761st Tank Battalion did assist in the liberation of Gunskirchen, a subcamp of Mauthausen. (Two months later, Giuliani narrowly defeated Dinkins, whose support among Jewish voters declined from 40 percent in 1989 to 35 percent in 1993.)
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In 1999, Steven Spielberg, a major Democratic donor in Hollywood, produced “The Last Days,” about the genocide of Hungarian Jewry. The film misrepresented the aforementioned Paul Parks, who had a cameo in “Liberators,” as a Dachau liberator. In the New York Post, the Forward and The Jewish Press, I presented unimpeachable evidence against the veracity of Parks’s claims.
In October 2000, The Boston Globe, which for many years had disseminated Parks’s World War II fabrications, published a series of investigative articles, partly based on my research in the National Archives, that shredded his credibility.
* * *
In a May 2008 interview with The Atlantic’s national correspondent Jeffrey Goldberg of “Liberators” fame, Democratic presidential frontrunner Barack Obama alluded to the loss of the “natural affinity” of the African-American and Jewish-American communities and their leaders that existed during the “early civil-rights movement but that has been estranged for a whole host of reasons that you and I don’t need to elaborate.”
Here was the perfect interviewer to whom Obama could demonstrate his “post-racial” bona fides. Goldberg, who at the time of the “Liberators” controversy wrote for the Forward, was one of the few journalists in the media capital of America with the courage to expose the many black and Jewish leaders who were promoting one of the biggest lies in American military history.
But Obama, who was mentored by Jesse Jackson before his successful 2004 Senate campaign, proved incapable of criticizing the machers from the two communities who for a half-century have been twin pillars of the Democratic Party.
A few weeks later, in a Memorial Day campaign speech, Obama claimed his (white) great-uncle Charles Payne helped liberate Auschwitz. After a huge public outcry – Auschwitz was in fact freed by the Soviet Army – Obama’s campaign admitted he meant Ohrdruf, a Buchenwald subcamp. In reality, there was no liberation of Ohrdruf, as the prisoners had been either summarily executed by SS guards or forcibly removed on a death march to Buchenwald a few days before the arrival of the Fourth Armored and 89th Infantry divisions on April 4, 1945.
The Buchenwald Report, a 350-page history of the camp written by the survivors in the weeks after their liberation, provides harrowing accounts of Ohrdruf’s last days and subsequent death march. This critical document in Holocaust historiography has multiple accounts of liberation day, but none mentions black GIs.
About the Author: Mark Schulte has written about World War II and the liberation of the concentration camp for two decades for The Jewish Press, New York Post, Weekly Standard, New York Daily News and other publications.
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