(CNN) — The Republican National Committee accused Barack Obama Tuesday of a lack of judgment after the Illinois senator mistakenly said that his uncle helped liberate the Nazi concentration camp Auschwitz while serving in the American military during World War II.
In fact, that concentration camp was liberated by Soviet soldiers in 1945.
Obama campaign spokesman Bill Burton released a statement later Tuesday clarifying the remarks, saying the Illinois senator meant to refer to the Buchenwald camp, which American soldiers did liberate. Obama was also apparently referring to his great uncle, Charles Payne.
“Senator Obama’s family is proud of the service of his grandfather and uncles in World War II – especially the fact that his great uncle was a part of liberating one of the concentration camps at Buchenwald. Yesterday he mistakenly referred to Auschwitz instead of Buchenwald in telling of his personal experience of a soldier in his family who served heroically,” Burton said.
In a statement released earlier Tuesday, Republican National Committee spokesman Alex Conant said Obama's comments "raise questions about his judgment and his readiness to lead as commander in chief."
Obama's comments came Monday during a question and answer session after a Las Cruces, New Mexico speech marking Memorial Day. The Illinois senator was calling for better care for veterans who experience post-traumatic stress syndrome when he made the reference.
"I had a uncle who was one of the, who was part of the first American troops to go into Auschwitz and liberate the concentration camps and the story in our family was is that when he came home, he just went up into the attic and he didn’t leave the house for six months," Obama said. "Now obviously something had really affected him deeply but at that time there just weren’t the kinds of facilities to help somebody work through that kind of pain."
Payne, a brother of Obama's grandmother, served in the 89th Infantry Division that liberated one of the subcamps of Buchenwald, according to the Obama campaign.
(Updates with Obama response)