Free Dina’s Art

Custodians of Hatred

ICOM Code 2.5 – Mengele’s Morals in Action

Section 2.5 of the ICOM Code, details the most significant and important aspects of Dina Babbitt’s portraits and of this whole situation – their nature as sacred Human Artifacts – the intrinsic witness these portraits bear to the human-ness of all  victims of aggressive oppression, both in the specific instance of their creation (1942-45), and in the specific instance of their being illegitimately withheld from their true owner (1973-2009).

Here is what the ICOM Code says:  (once again, emphasis is added)

“2.5 – Culturally Sensitive Material

Collections of human remains and material of sacred significance should be acquired only if they can be housed securely and cared for respectfully. This must be accomplished in a manner consistent with professional standards and the interests and beliefs of members of the community, ethnic or religious groups from which the objects originated, where these are known. (See also 3.7; 4.3).”

That these artifacts originated in a Human community is indisputable. Each portrait represents the final days or hours of the life of one human being. In those last moments, each of these persons shared one final experience – they were used to illustrate and exemplify the inferiority of one group of humans to another.

Even the artist was considered inferior to real human beings and the work came from her brush against her will. What these people, artist and sitters,  shared was the human experience of living in the Valley of the Shadow of Death.

That these items were produced in those moments and under those conditions, makes them sacred artifacts. Clearly, there is no one on the staff of any Museum anywhere in the world, who can interpret the true meaning and value of these specific pieces in the same way that Dina Babbitt understands them. Any attempt to do so, or claim of ability to do so, is false and spurious.

The Auschwitz-Birkenau Museum is extending Dina Babbitt’s victimization, while misappropriating her experiences, her work, and her suffering as their own. These, as the Custodians of Hatred, they sell to tourists for profit. This behaviour is the ugliest of evils.

The goal of the original unholy exercise at the Auschwitz Death Camp was to improve human society by ridding it of its flaws.

It is the evident goal of the Auschwitz Museum also, to improve human society by ridding it of its flaws. To accomplish this, the Museum administrators seem to consider it their right (and duty) to take what they need from whomever they need take it, and to claim it for their own. But do they need the seven little pieces of paper they are holding? They do have replicas which, given contemporary museum technology, are very likely indistinguishable from the originals. The originals are locked away for reasons of ‘security’. They are not seen by visitors to the Museum.

To the Auschwitz Museum Community, the morality of their task obviates any requirement to accede to the wishes of any one whose views are not congruent with their own. The moral imperative of the Auschwitz Museum appears to allow them to use the time-honoured tactics they are currently employing and to hold the attitudes they currently do.  But this same self-aggrandizement, this, “I’ll tell you what’s best because you have no power and I do.” attitude, is eerily congruent to the attitude held by Joseph Mengele and all of his Nazi comrades.

The undeniably imminent loss of life for the portraits’ subjects and the daily imminence of loss (then and now,)  for the artist, sanctifies these seven little pieces of paper and makes them sacred objects as surely as the Christian host is a sacred object, as surely as any physical souvenir of your own lost loved ones is a sacred object to you.

This Museum is withholding sacred objects very disrespectfully; in keeping them from their true and rightful owner, the Museum is treating neither the art, nor its rightful owner, respectfully. They are not keeping these objects in a manner consistent with the beliefs of members of the human community or of any humane community.

[Please note: The ICOM Code does not say ALL members of the community. It says just, “members of the community”.  Several hundred members of the world community, do not find the Museum’s manner to be “…consistent with the interests and beliefs of members of the community from which the objects originated.”]

Until the Auschwitz Museum meets the requirements of the ICOM Code of Ethics, it is not a museum. It remains a functioning Concentration Camp. And it actively disavows the validity, the honour, and the usefulness of the International Council of Museums itself.

The Auschwitz Museum can comply with the requirements of the Code of Ethics for Museums. All they need do to rejoin the Human Community is to Free Dina’s Art. Now!


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