Free Dina’s Art

I’d Like a Response, Please.

Two letters today – first, a gentle reminder to the Museum:

Tim Thibeault
Ottawa, Canada
February 24, 2009

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

Dear Dr. Cywiński,

On February 13, 2009 I wrote to you asking for clarification of your stance on the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights and whether you believe that the Auschwitz State Museum is in compliance with the standards set out in that document as regards the Museum’s treatment of Dina Gottliebova-Babbitt and her Gypsy portraits, currently in your custody.

The Auschwitz State Museum’s stance on the Universal Declaration of Human Rights is not dealt with in the web page to which you refer those people who are concerned with this issue. It seems only appropriate that your institution should declare its position vis à vis the Declaration and its applicability to all victims of your institution, past and present.

I realize this is not an easy matter to discuss and I would imagine it is a source of some embarrassment to you.  Refusal to deal with this matter, serves only to share responsibility for that embarrassment with the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization under the aegis of which the Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum currently enjoys its status as a World Heritage Site.

An announcement from your museum that the paintings in question are being returned to their rightful owner would remove all embarrassment and resolve this matter once and for all.

This letter is to request that you address my concerns as expediently as possible, since, as I am sure you are aware, Mrs Babbitt is dealing with several health issues and the drawing out of this question serves only to exacerbate her difficulties. Frankly, I find it hard to fathom that a young man in a position to end the suffering of one of the longest standing prisoners of your camp would be reluctant to do so in view of the tragic facts of this case.

Your prompt attention would be very much appreciated.

Sincerely yours,

Tim Thibeault

and a second letter, this one to ICOM asking for their stance on this issue:

Tim Thibeault
Ottawa, Canada
February 24, 2009

The Ethics Committee,
The International Council of Museums,
Paris, France

To Whom It May Concern,

For some weeks now, I have been in contact with Dr. M.A. Cywinski of the Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum in Oswiecim, Poland, to discuss the matter of the Human Rights of one of that institution’s past inmates, Dina Gottliebova-Babbitt.

I seem to be having some difficulty in determining whether that institution has been granted an exemption from respecting the UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights, in particular Article 17.2 which deals with the arbitrary denial of a person’s property.

From what I have been able to glean from its published stance, the Museum contends that the paintings in question actually belong to the estate of  Josef Mengele. In doing so, the Museum is giving the property rights of Josef Mengele precedence over the Human Rights of Mrs. Babbitt.

To help clarify this issue, please allow me to ask you, as members of the ICOM Ethics Committee, whether you concur with the Museum’s position as stated in the web page linked below:

Do the ICOM Ethics Committee members believe that the Auschwitz Museum is conducting itself in compliance with the UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights in this matter?

I do apologize for any inconvenience in my questioning this issue, however the lady at the center of this issue is currently facing severe health issues which are certainly not being ameliorated by her treatment at the hands of the Museum’s administrators. I feel that any inconvenience caused by my questions is less significant than the prolonged suffering of one of Auschwitz’ longest standing victims.

I thank you for your attention and I hope and pray that the concerted efforts of persons who respect the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights will help bring this matter to a timely and satisfactory conclusion.

Sincerely yours,

Tim Thibeault


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