Free Dina’s Art


ICOM Responds, April 2011
April 7, 2011, 8:21 pm
Filed under: Active Decency | Tags: , , , , , ,

Within 10 days of the most recent request for information, ICOM’s  reply has arrived. Even-sided, level-headed and dripping with integrity and honesty, it says in part:

“…Much inquiry and reflection has continued to be directed to the case of Dina Babbitt’s watercolour portraits of Roma people incarcerated in Auschwitz.

The ICOM Ethics Committee will take account also of the position of the museum, and note its most recent expression of acknowledgment of the rights of the late Dinah Babitt,[sic] as author of the seven watercolour portraits (stated on the museum’s website).

Other colleagues within ICOM have been in touch with the museum in recent years, at the request of the Ethics Committee, to understand this case – and indeed it is highly complex, with many layers.

The Ethics Committee will be meeting this month (April) in Paris, and I will respond again after that time.”

This response represents a reassurance that the issue has not been forgotten by ICOM since Dina Babbitt’s passing, and that is a relief.

Can we accept that the fruit of forced labour belongs rightfully to that person who exacted the work originally, or to whomever may have found a way to benefit through the subsequent acquisition of that work? If we cannot, then it is clear that Dina Babbitt’s Human Rights have indeed been, and continue to be, violated by everyone involved in the daily running of the Auschwitz Camp since its original mandate was altered to change its role in human society from “death camp” to “tourist attraction.”

The next challenge, in a thinking, feeling world, is to convince those people at modern day Auschwitz that no actions carried out in any place, can be of greater import than the causes they  pretend to espouse. When that kind of thinking is allowed to prevail, we shall have already created our next “extreme ideology”. Do we really need that?

Recognition of one’s rights as “author” is not the same as recognition of one’s rights as “human”. Dina Babbitt’s rights as an “author” are undeniably demonstrated by her signature on the works in question. It is her rights as a “human” that need to be recognized and honoured here. The only way to recognize Dina Babbitt’s human rights is to restore her work to its rightful owners, her daughters.



ICOM, What’s Happening?
March 26, 2011, 3:55 am
Filed under: Active Decency | Tags: , , , , , ,
To: the ICOM Ethics Committee
Re: Dina Babbitt’s Human Rights

Dear Committee Members,

I am writing to request any updated information on progress that may have been made by the ICOM Ethics Committee in considering Dina Babbitt’s Human Rights claims against the Auschwitz State Museum, for possession of her Gypsy portraits.

The museum’s history and the rationale behind the granting of its current status as a UNESCO World Heritage Site should certainly accrue the responsibility to adhere most stringently to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

On the Museum’s web page in defence of its morally egregious claim to ownership of Dina Babbitt’s work, the anonymous author stresses that: “In the light of law, the rightful owner of the seven Gypsy portraits is the Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum. In what regards the author property rights, they belong to Ms. Gottliebova. The Museum being the rightful owner, but without the property rights, is allowed to use them within the limits of permissible public use of protected artifacts, determined in regulation regarding author rights and relative rights.”

This spurious and specious claim violates article 17a of the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

I believe that the application of an “extreme ideology” is being used by members of the International Auschwitz Council in denying Dina Babbitt’s right to own property, throughout her life and up to the present. This is wrong. It constitutes a contradiction of the Museum’s ultimate moral and ethical mandate while clearly continuing to disregard specific inconvenient  articles of the Universal Declaration.

I would hope the Ethics Committee can see that, in light of this intransigence, there is some question as to whether the Museum can be considered worthy of World Heritage Site status while it continues to disregard the Universal Declaration. Has this question been considered in the deliberations over Dina Babbitt’s art works?

I would sincerely like to understand how Dina Babbitt’s past mistreatment by an authoritarian regime can be used to justify the continuation of such mistreatment by the Museum’s current administrators. Any insights that can be provided would be most appreciated.

Thank you for your time and concern in this matter.

Sincerely,

Tim Thibeault
March 25, 2011
Ottawa, Canada

cc: muzeum.auschwitz.org.pl

cc:freedinasart.wordpress.com



December 10, 2010
December 10, 2010, 8:12 am
Filed under: Active Decency | Tags: , , , , , , ,

Happy Birthday Human Rights Day

“Respect for human rights and human dignity “is the foundation of freedom, justice and peace in the world”, the General Assembly declared…in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. In 1950, all States and interested organizations were invited by the General Assembly to observe 10 December as Human Rights Day (resolution 423(V)).

The Day marks the anniversary of the Assembly’s adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in 1948. Over the years, a whole network of human rights instruments and mechanisms has been developed to ensure the primacy of human rights and to confront human rights violations wherever they occur.”

~United Nations’ Human Rights Day Web Site.
http://www.un.org/depts/dhl/humanrights/

The most significant part of the above statement might be its acceptance of responsibility “…to confront human rights violations wherever they occur.”

Certainly in the matter of Dina Babbitt’s human right not to be arbitrarily deprived of her property (U.N. Universal Declaration, Article 17a.), there remains some work to be done. To date, behind-the-scenes communications are apparently being conducted between members of the International Council of Museums and other parties concerning the Auschwitz Museum’s claim that it is morally and ethically in rightful possession of Dina’s gypsy portraits.

The Museum maintains that it has a right to arbitrarily deprive Dina Babbitt of her property.  Part of its argument involves the apparently sacred nature of Auschwitz itself, where the portraits were made. Because of the atrocities committed at Auschwitz, it, as a place, is more important to humanity than any actual member of humanity who was interned there. Some believe that this doesn’t make much sense.

In light of the hundreds upon hundreds of thousands of human beings who were slaughtered there in the name of extreme ideology, Auschwitz and the earth is indeed sacred ground. As such, it should certainly not be used to generate income no matter how noble the cause, since those who are paid from the funds raised, are in ethical danger of profiteering from the very Holocaust they claim to deplore.

Far better for the ground on which Auschwitz stands, would it be for contemporary humankind to recognize its failure for nearly a century to use this land in a truly human manner. Instead of a prison, or a concentration camp, or a death camp, or a museum to celebrate the horrors of a death camp, perhaps the land itself should be fenced off from all human contact from now on. Let us give the land on which Auschwitz stands back to its Creator and see what He would do with it.

Move out the Death House Treasures for those who would profit from such things; the evil evidence of humanity’s penchant for inhuman behaviour has no place on sacred ground. It is not the evil that occurred there that makes Auschwitz sacred. It is the passage of so many human souls through one small place, a jagged rip in the tapestry of human history that sanctifies the earth there. The land itself is sacred and should not be tainted by a tradition of human inability to behave humanely.

The Death House Treasures should not be used to lay open the wounds of mankind’s wretched past. While it is important to remember the past in order not to repeat it, it is equally important not to dwell in the past, but to recognize the promise of the future and to recognize humanity not as an achievement already attained, but as a goal yet to be fully realized.

The International Auschwitz Council can easily attain the goal of being more fully human by recognizing Dina Babbitt’s human rights and putting her portraits in  the hands into which she fervently wished to place them herself.

When the United Nations urges the IAC to recognize Dina Babbitt’s human rights and return her property, it will have confronted the human rights violations that occur at the Auschwitz State Museum.

______________________________________________________________

You can remind the Auschwitz State Museum and the International Council of Museums of your concern for human rights and how they can help.  Their addresses are linked on the left.



If You Can’t Beat ‘Em, Join ‘Em!
October 9, 2010, 12:44 am
Filed under: Active Decency | Tags: , , , , , ,

Auschwitz–Birkenau, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, has its own web page under the UNESCO banner. Auschwitz is worthy of being called a world heritage site for several reasons (according to the United Nations). Among these reasons is criterion (vi), which says in part,

“it is a place of our collective memory of this dark chapter in the history of humanity, of transmission to younger generations and a sign of warning of the many threats and tragic consequences of extreme ideologies and denial of human dignity.”

Let me repeat that last part which claims rather blatantly that today’s Auschwitz Museum exists as:

“…a sign of warning of the many threats and tragic consequences of extreme ideologies and denial of human dignity.

When the Nazi ideology denied Dina Babbitt her human dignity, it was because Nazism was  an extreme ideology. Later, after 1973, when the current Auschwitz Museum withheld from Dina Babbitt her own work, it was not seen by the International Auschwitz Council as a denial of her Human Rights, her human dignity, or any other form of violation. It was simply the application of the IAC’s ideology to Dina Babbitt’s life.

Thus, for the next three decades and continuing up to the present day, the International Auschwitz Council did just what the Nazis did in denying Dina Babbitt her human rights. But that’s okay because the International Auschwitz Council is made up of doctors and humanitarians and former victims of Auschwitz itself.

Well, ‘Beppo’ Mengele was a doctor. And his vile practices were done only to improve the lot of the German race, so he was a humanitarian too, if we allow him to define the terms of how he treated Dina Babbitt.

The International Auschwitz Council is taking a page out of the good Doctor’s book and applying it to the extreme ideology of the Holocaust Industry and the Polish Tourist Industry, if we allow them to define the terms of how they treated Dina Babbitt while she was alive, and of how they are treating her descendants today.

Perhaps it is time for the Auschwitz Council to remove the Arbeit Macht Frei sign and replace it with one that says, more honestly, “If You Can’t Beat ‘Em, Join ‘Em.”

_____________________________________-

You are invited to make known your own opinions on this question of extreme ideologies. You can comment here; you can write to the Auschwitz Museum;  you can express your opinion to the United Nations via the International Council of Museums’ Ethics Committee. There are links on the left that will empower you to be a participating objector rather than a tacitly approving audience to the hypocritically extreme ideology of the International Auschwitz Council. (You will also be helping them fulfill their mandate of warning today’s youth of the dangers of extreme ideologies and the denial of human dignity.)



Sept. 17, 2010 – Yom Kippur
September 18, 2010, 1:22 am
Filed under: Active Decency | Tags: , , , , ,

I would like to take this opportunity to remind the honourable and humanitarian members of the International Auschwitz Council that as of sunset, it is Yom Kippur.

The sun may have set on Auschwitz today, but the light of public awareness still shines brightly on what the Nazi Regime and the International Auschwitz Council did to Dina Gottliebova, and what IAC continues to do to her children and grandchildren.

Human Rights denial to Jews was considered a valid tactic by the Nazis. If only there were a group dedicated to seeing that it never happens again…

Never again.



August 2010 – No News is No News
August 25, 2010, 2:35 am
Filed under: Active Decency

The search for accountability concerning the International Auschwitz Committee’s arbitrary denial of Dina Babbitt’s Human Rights is currently focused on the International Council of Museums’ Ethics Committee.

That group, among its other duties and challenges, oversees the compliance of all member museums with the ICOM Code of Ethics. The matter was put to the Ethics Committee over a year ago and we are waiting somewhat patiently for news.

The Wheels of Justice are said to move slowly, and the Wheels of Ethics don’t seem to be ‘burning rubber’ either.  The historical facts remain and they point to the application of an extremist ideology that precludes individual human rights under certain undefined but rigidly enforced circumstances.

It has been just over a year since Dina Babbitt’s passing, and over thirty-six years since she last saw and presumably held, her Gypsy portraits at the Auschwitz State Museum.  Prior to that it had been nearly thirty years since she had last seen her watercolours, that being at the time of their creation.

It was Dina Babbitt’s most fervent wish that she be able to hold those works in her hands again, and then pass them on to the hands of her children and grandchildren whose very existence was made possible by the creation of the Gypsy portraits. For Dina Babbitt, the Gypsy portraits represented actual people who endured the same terror as she but who didn’t survive.

It has taken more than half a century and expressions of support in great numbers via letters, petitions, art exhibits and public presentations, political initiatives and contemporary artistic undertakings such as graphic novels and video to set this idea before people who are charged with tending the details that will see Dina’s art restored to its rightful owners.

Throughout Dina Babbitt’s attempts to regain her paintings, the International Auschwitz Council has maintained a stance, often backed by spurious and specious arguments, that takes its mandate to commemorate and interprets it as a mandate to perpetuate the rights denials of the past. This is wrong. It is time for the IAC to rethink its mandate and free Dina’s art.



VE Day – 2010

May 8, 1945.  Can it have been 65 years already?

At this time 65 years ago, Dina Gottliebova had just recently tasted freedom and hope after a steady diet of despair and hopelessness. Welcome to a new reality, one might think.

As the camp at Auschwitz was emptied, someone removed the watercolour paintings done by Dina during her internment and the paintings began a series of adventures of their own. Of the paintings’ very earliest adventures, we can only guess. Of their adventures since their positive identification in the early 1970s, we know only too well. And we know very well their role in Dina’s life experience with Human Rights Denial at the hands of  ‘extreme ideologies’.

Even the United Nations’ International Council of Museums is aware of the facts regarding the arbitrary denial of Dina’s property, and thereby of her Human Rights. It is the International Council of Museums that is charged with overseeing Museum Ethics and operating practices around the world. That is a pretty large order and the Council is to be congratulated for its facing up to the task so admirably in most instances.

But in the case of Dina Gottliebova, the International Council of Museums has not done its hastiest work. The Council has studied Dina’s case, and has consulted with many experts in fields related to Art and to Human Rights and to the Responsibilities of Museum Directorates. But today, more than 35 years after the positive identification of the watercolours in question as the work of Dina Gottliebova, the International Council of Museums has been unable or unwilling to apply the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights, article 17a, to Dina Gottliebova and her property.

In the case of Dina Babbitt (née Gottliebova), the International Auschwitz Council (ironically, under the aegis of the United Nations itself,) has decided that the United Nations has no more say in how Auschwitz is run today than it did when Auschwitz opened for business in the first place.

In a brilliant Catch-22, the United Nations, which declared the Auschwitz State Museum a World Heritage Site, has essentially been told by the International Auschwitz Council, to mind its own business because what happens at Auschwitz stays at Auschwitz.

If this situation remains uncorrected, one might be forgiven for wondering if the United Nations lacks a certain moral testicularity – 65 years after the War in Europe was brought to a close and Human Rights were restored for everyone – almost.

In the column at the left, you can find addresses for both the Auschwitz Museum and for ICOM. If you have an opinion in this matter, you can make it known there and do your bit to end the Holocaust and all of its extreme ideologies, once and for all. It could be your little contribution to total Victory in Europe. Happy V.E. Day.