Free Dina’s Art


Clarification Please!

My response to the current Auschwitz Administrator has been copied to the ICOM Ethics Committee as it appears below:

Tim Thibeault                                                                                                                      Ottawa, Canada                                                                                                           February 13, 2009

Dr. Piotr M. A. Cywiński,                                                                                         Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum                                                                            Oswiecim, Poland

Dear Dr. Cywiński,

Thank you for your prompt response to my inquiry of February 9th, 2009. I appreciate that this required translation of my concerns prior to your consideration of this issue. I do regret that I am unable to address you in your own language which would certainly ensure a more immediate understanding for both of us.

Nevertheless, it is important not only to my own understanding, but to that of all people who desire to end the Holocaust and its lingering effects once and for all, that we accept certain basic principles. I believe that it is not enough that the killing of innocent people at the Death Camps be stopped. That much has been accomplished.

More disturbing at this time, is the ongoing denial of the Human Rights of Dina Gottliebova-Babbitt and her contemporaries most of whom suffered and died in your camp and its affiliate institutions. This part of the Holocaust has not yet ended: the denial of Human Rights as defined by the Universal Declaration continues to this day in the policies of the Auschwitz State Museum.

It is this arbitrary decision to confiscate their property that casts a far greater “shadow on the memory of Auschwitz Concentration Camp victims” both past and present, than any “dispersal” of their property to those who rightly own it.

Prior to being starved, abused, and summarily murdered, these people had all traces of their humanity confiscated by your own predecessors; according to Mrs. Babbitt, even their underwear. How much more humiliation can be heaped on people than the denial of their possessions, their identities (to be replaced by numbers tattooed on their bodies), and their right to live?

Sadly, there is more that can be done to them, even by well-meaning people and institutions: they can be told that their lives were spared and that that is enough. They can be told that they should not expect to have their Human Rights respected as well. They can be offered a defense of the property rights of Josef Mengele as evidence that their property is not their own, with the accompanying tacit observation that they as human beings, were also once Mengele’s property. I find this stance very distasteful and unacceptable both morally and ethically.

I believe that the entire civilized human race also disagrees with the denial of Human Rights to even one of its constituents when that can be stopped, and in the case of the policies of the Auschwitz State Museum, it most assuredly can be stopped. You can stop it, if you choose.

In particular, I refer to Article 17 of the above mentioned Declaration, which states:

“Artykul 17 Kazdy czlowiek, zarówno sam jak i wespól z innymi, ma prawo do posiadania wlasnosci. Nie wolno nikogo samowolnie pozbawiac jego wlasnosci.”

It is the arbitrary nature of your Institution’s policy that I find most troublesome. Someone has decided quite arbitrarily that the “moral and statutory” obligation of the Auschwitz State Museum supersedes its obligation to respect the articles of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

This same conclusion was reached by Dr Josef Mengele and it was so unacceptable then, that my own father went on a prolonged tour of Europe in the 1940s to reverse that arbitrary decision. He was not invited by the administrators of your institution. He went at the invitation of a civilization worthy of protection. I would be profoundly ashamed to see his efforts wasted in the name of some arbitrarily defined greater good to society, without speaking out to correct those presumptions.

If we open the door to Human Rights denial in one instance, then we are only allowing that Dr Mengele and his contemporaries were correct in their assumptions, and I cannot accept that you, as Director of Auschwitz today, would take that stance by defending Dr. Mengele’s property rights over the Human Rights of his intended victims.

I hope that this link will help you familiarize yourself with the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and better understand my position:

http://www.un.org/children/conflict/keydocuments/polish/universaldeclara1.html

In closing, I must ask you again to clarify for me precisely why the Auschwitz State Museum should be exempted from respecting the articles of the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights, as well as several articles of the International Council of Museums Code of Ethics for Museums.

Again, I and hundreds of concerned individuals the world over, look forward to your response to our very serious concerns.

Most Sincerely Yours,

Tim Thibeault

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1 Comment so far
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Very well-spoken, sir. The flame of your passion in this matter is a guiding light for the rest of us. Thank you.

Comment by Bruce MacIntosh




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