From the beaches of Normandy to the streets of Najaf, a lie is a lie- and it eventually comes into the light.
Thus was the case when a 96-year-old American veteran decorated for taking part in one of the most daring actions in World War II admitted he made it all up.
Claiming he stormed the cliffs at Pointe du Hoc with the Rangers during Operation Overlord, George G. Klein was decorated with the Purple Heart, Bronze Star and the French Légion d’honneur for making the treacherous 100-foot climb in order to take out German fortifications.
There is only one problem- Klein was an officer in Northern Ireland on D-Day and didn’t go into France until a month after Overlord was a done deal.
The star of the 73rd anniversary celebrations -where he signed hundreds of autographs and was photographed with his medals on the French cliffs he claimed to have climbed in 1944- Klein was flown to Normandy largely in part to charitable donations.
However, Second World War historians Gary Sterne and Marty Morgan failed to find any proof that Klein was at Pointe du Hoc, forcing him to admit his D-Day heroism was all a lie.
Make no mistake, Klein did see combat as an artillery officer and was wounded in combat. However, his fabrication of how he got to the European mainland came as heartbreaking news to many.
Marc Laurenceau, head of the Overlord D-Day Association, told French newspaper La Renaissance Le Bessin: “George Klein arrived in Normandy in July 1944. I’m in contact with his family with whom I have become friends. They are devastated. So are we, as we believed his story. We put in a lot of effort to get him to Normandy.”
While Klein did try out for the Rangers, a broken ankle ended his training in 1943.
Still, the Overlord D-Day Association still asserts that Klein is a hero- in November of 1944, he was wounded in Germany.
“Trapped into a lie that shaped him in the eyes of his entourage, and from which he could no longer escape, he finally resolved to tell the truth,” they said.
Around $4,000 was raised to bring Klein to Normandy.
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