Free Dina’s Art

“…A Sign of Warning…”

UNESCO Criterion under which Auschwitz enjoys “World Heritage” Status.

“Criterion (vi): be directly or tangibly associated with events or living traditions, with ideas, or with beliefs, with artistic and literary works of outstanding universal value.”

“Auschwitz – Birkenau, monument to the deliberate genocide of the Jews by the Nazi regime (Germany 1933-1945) and to the deaths of countless others bears irrefutable evidence to one of the greatest crimes ever perpetrated against humanity. It is also a monument to the strength of the human spirit which in appalling conditions of adversity resisted the efforts of the German Nazi regime to suppress freedom and free thought and to wipe out whole races. The site is a key place of memory for the whole of humankind for the holocaust, racist policies and barbarism; 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.”

Does anyone else see a source of cognitive dissonance in juxtaposition of the denial of human dignity experienced by Dina Babbitt as she was arbitrarily deprived of her property by the International Auschwitz Committee, with the spectacular display of Olympic-calibre rhetorical gymnastics in the above paragraph?

The shabbiest of behaviours can be dressed in the noblest of words; the naked truth is that the denial of respect for #61016’s Human Rights and Dignity constitutes the active and deliberate continuation of treatment she has received at the hands of all Auschwitz officials since Dina Gottliebova was first assigned a number in 1943.

I strongly disapprove of this.

I believe UNESCO needs to reconsider Auschwitz’s status as a World Heritage Site in light of the IAC’s ongoing violation of the UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights.


Further reading:


Cognitive Dissonance
September 3, 2009, 6:10 am
Filed under: Active Decency | Tags: , , , , ,

In Sanford, California in 1957 Leon Festinger identified one of the most lamentable states in which the human mind can find itself. When we try to hold  conflicting ideas simultaneously, our human tendency is to experience a sense of anxiety, leaving us in a sorry mental condition. Festinger called the cause of this condition ‘cognitive dissonance’.

Consider the plight of twenty-first century tobacco smokers. They know (and by “they” I mean “we”) that smoking tobacco can, or might, or probably will kill them. And yet, some continue to smoke in spite of such knowledge.  THAT is cognitive dissonance. Continuing an evil practice while knowing that it is wrong creates cognitive dissonance. If you are going to do that, try to ensure that you are hurting only yourself, and the world can have no issue with your choices.

But there is at least one instance in which a person can participate fully in knowingly committing evil deeds, and still escape the pangs of both conscience and cognitive dissonance. That instance is when one is part of a committee.

Much like the members of a firing squad who can convince themselves that they had no part in killing a human being because there were others present who were equally likely to have fired a live round at a living person, the members of a committee (from what I have observed) can count themselves as highly respected intellectuals, as doctors, humanitarians and even religious teachers.  They can consider themselves “respectable” even though their collective arbitrary decisions profoundly affect the lives of people they haven’t ever met.

Members of a committee, if they are shallow enough human beings, can convince themselves (but not me) that they are doing good and important work when they deny others the human rights that their own parent organization declares to be universal. They can commit with impunity the very sins they claim to hate and to be trying to stop from ever happening again. And they can defend their decisions with the most scurrilous and spurious reasons.

Somewhere within the first five books of the Bible, a person truly interested in religion could find four little words well worth contemplating. Those words are, “Thou shalt not steal.”

And yet these same  people can know that someone else has been profoundly hurt by their choices and actions and still feel no sense of responsibility at all. No cognitive dissonance can occur where conscience is absent. That is a shame. It is especially regrettable to see such behaviour originating with people who are trying to convince themselves and the world that the evil they are currently committing is somehow different and more noble than the same evil as practiced by others in the past.

Such people, whether committee members or not, are wrong to hurt others only to glorify their own evil deeds as acts of nobility or civilization. In their own minds, they may convince themselves that they are good people, but Leon Festinger might have told them otherwise.