Free Dina’s Art

Thanksgiving 2009
November 27, 2009, 5:16 pm
Filed under: Active Decency | Tags: , , , , ,

Thanksgiving Day 2009 has come and gone. Across America, people have pushed back their chairs, loosened their belts a notch or two, and thought of the things for which they are thankful – and of the things for which they would LIKE to be thankful.

Dina Babbitt had many thoughts of gratitude during the years she waited for the return of her property from the current administrators of the camp  where the denial of her human rights began over sixty years ago.

Dina was particularly grateful for the USA and the freedom it offered her after her ordeal in 1940s Europe. She was grateful for her family and the security they could enjoy in a society that respects human beings and their universally recognized rights.

There was one thing, however, for which she would have liked to be grateful. Dina Babbitt longed for one thing that was not to be granted in her lifetime. She longed for the return of her possessions, for the respect of her own human right to possess the things she made and owned.

The  small collection of  Gypsy portraits forced from her hands under  conditions of incomprehensible moral and ethical depravity,  and now denied her by the museum administrators at Auschwitz and their protectors, were to haunt Dina Babbitt to the end of her days. All she asked for was the return of seven little pieces of paper that belonged to her.

The irony in her wish was that the very institution that tried to dehumanize her and to replace her name with a number, although eventually ‘liberated’ and turned into a museum, has maintained its underlying extremist ideology that the work carried out on the grounds of the Auschwitz camp is more  important than the rights of any individual. This argument was in vogue when Auschwitz opened its doors for business and it remains in vogue today. That’s a bloody shame.

Someday, I hope to  be grateful that  human rights denial is no longer an official practice anywhere on the globe.  For today, I am grateful that I do not understand humanity’s potential for evil to the degree that Dina Babbitt came to understand it throughout her life.


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