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.

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Dina’s Story in Popular Culture
January 3, 2010, 4:12 pm
Filed under: Active Decency | Tags: , , , , , ,

Among Dina Babbitt’s friends and supporters during her lifetime were many artists, illustrators and cartoonists. In 2009, the people behind Marvel Comics depicted her story in one of their more popular graphic novel series,  “X-Men, Magneto Testament.”

The story in that issue has been made into a video production and is now available on YouTube. You can see it for yourself here:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p8Q-7_jLMs4



ICOM? Are you still there?

This site reaches its first anniversary on January 1, 2010 as a now international effort to have Dina Babbitt’s artworks returned to their rightful owners by the International Auschwitz Committee. Dina Babbitt fully deserved during her lifetime, recognition of her status as a human being to whom certain clearly defined rights are accorded by international agreement, and, allegedly, by the International Auschwitz Committee itself.

In spite of their stated, and apparently noble goals, the IAC has failed miserably in the pursuit of those noble-sounding ideals. Dina Babbitt was denied her rights by the original owners of the Auschwitz Camp. The current owners also refuse, as they have for over 36 years, to acknowledge Dina’s Human Rights by relinquishing her property. They CLAIM to recognize Dina Babbitt as a human being, but in keeping her works from her, their actions can only underscore the falsehood of those claims.

Through our words, we show the world only that which we wish the world to think we are.  Through our actions we show the world who we truly are.

This pitiably blind group, the International Auschwitz Committee, has made itself the sole institutional heir to Hitler’s ideology that only those with power can define what is right and human. Both Hitler and the current IAC would maintain that the goals of the institution established at Auschwitz (whether the year be 1943, 1952 or 2010) are of paramount importance in making this world a better place.

Those goals may appear, through careful wording, to have changed over time but they have not. In essence, the IAC maintains that what was made at Auschwitz must stay at Auschwitz in order for the crimes committed there to be made right. And, there is no one better suited to define what is right than the administrators of the Auschwitz-Birkenau Concentration Camp/Tourist Attraction.

The art itself, 7 portraits of Gypsy Holocaust victims, was made by Dina Babbitt in her teen years while she was an internee at Auschwitz. Each of the persons depicted in the portraits was murdered soon after his or her portrait was completed.

It was the Nazi plan to demonstrate the racial inferiority of their victims and thus justify their monstrous humanity-denying practices. What happened to those victims was immaterial once the Nazis had what they wanted.

The International Auschwitz Committee, through its ongoing institutional behaviour is living proudly up to the standards established by Hitler and his cohorts. What happened to Dina Babbitt was immaterial to the International Auschwitz Committee once they had what they desired – Dina Babbitt’s possessions.

Due to the rigorous efforts of the International Auschwitz Committee, Dina Babbitt suffered for the rest of her life and died on July 29, 2009  without ever having enjoyed the benefits of what the United Nations calls its, “Universal Declaration of Human Rights.”

Let us hope that by next year at this time, Mr. Hitler’s work at Auschwitz will have been stopped completely. Let us strive to see the International Auschwitz Committee live up to its mandate and Free Dina’s Art.

International Council of Museums, it’s your turn to say something now.



A Simple Solution

Give Them to Everybody

Although the current administration of Auschwitz, has seen the end results for Dina Babbitt, of one “Final Solution”, I would suggest that the question of de-accessioning and returning Dina Babbitt’s property (and human rights)  has not yet been satisfactorily answered.

Since the true value of Dina’s work, as stated by the Museum’s own apologists, is in effect to prolong the memory of the Holocaust, why not just publish high-resolution copies of her work on the net?

Return the originals to their rightful owners and make copies available to the whole world.

That way, everyone who has heard Dina’s story will be able to see what all the fuss is about. Being only facsimiles behind a glass screen instead of originals, the experience of seeing Dina’s art, life-sized, on-line and behind glass, would be aesthetically identical to seeing high-resolution copies of the portraits behind glass at their current location in the Polish Abattoir of the Soul.

And, just to clarify the source of this ongoing tragedy, Auschwitz may have begun as a German sin, but it is now a one hundred percent Polish sin. (Is Lech Kaczynski a president, or a puppet?)

The seeds of Human Rights Abuse, planted in long-dead German ideology, have thrived and blossomed in 21st Century Polish ideology, nurtured by the recurring failures of the Polish Government and of ICOM to shake off ideological tyranny, and to comport themselves in a way that respects both humanity and the UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

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You can find another way to practice active decency here, at Ed Cherniga’s very worthy art undertaking in Philadelphia, USA:

http://artfordina.wordpress.com



Fear

“The great strength of the totalitarian state is that it forces those who fear it, to imitate it.”  ~Adolph Hitler

The officials responsible for keeping Dina Babbitt’s paintings from her imagine themselves to be doing so for the greater good of mankind, via a museum, a ‘collective memory’.  They fear that the Holocaust will be forgotten.  Fear.

In order to brace against this possibility, they commit the same human rights abuse that they claim to decry. Fear taints the noble quest with stupidly righteous blunders.

The association of the Auschwitz State Museum with UNESCO and thereby with the International Council of Museums, obliges the museum and its directors to adhere to certain standards of ethics and institutional morality, standards that are well and clearly defined. There is a distinct discrepancy between the museum’s arbitrary decisions concerning Dina Babbitt’s paintings, and those well-defined standards.

Who actually made these seven watercolour portraits?

Under what conditions were they made?

What person or persons living today can lay greater moral and ethical claim to possess them, than their acknowledged creator?

Who owns the fear that is keeping painter and paintings apart?

Now is the time for the institutions involved to ‘man up’, overcome their fears and Free Dina’s Art.

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If you want to practice some active decency here, try this:

Familiarize yourself with the facts of Dina Babbitt’s paintings and her desire to have them returned.

Read a letter from her daughters Michele and Karin, at unobserver.com

Read the online petition(s) and decide for yourself whether to sign.

Write to the Auschwitz Museum and to ICOM to let them know of your interest in Institutions and Human Rights, particularly as they apply to Dina Babbitt’s watercolours.

Tell two of your friends about Dina Babbitt. Tell them to do a web search on Dina Babbitt’s Art.



Another Anniversary

The fifth of May 2009 marked another anniversary for Dina Babbitt. It has now been 64 years since her physical freedom from the grip of the Third Reich was achieved. It remains an ongoing tragedy that her emotional imprisonment has not yet ended despite the relative ease with which this could be accomplished.

That of course, would be recognition of, and respect for her Human Rights  demonstrated by the immediate return of her property from the Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum.

Her property, as a growing number of people already knows, consists of 7 watercolour portraits of Gypsy prisoners in the Auschwitz-Birkenau Death Camp in Poland. It is worth noting here, that although Polish President Lech Kaczynski protests loudly when an American broadcaster refers to Auschwitz as a ‘Polish’ camp, insisting vociferously that it was a ‘German’ camp, he has no problem at all with the Polish Government’s continuation of the Nazi Party’s weakness for failing to recognize Human Rights when it benefits him. We must never confuse the Polish political system with Nazism even when they shamelessly use Nazi logic to forward their own goals. This state-sanctioned hypocrisy says a great deal more about 21st Century Poland than does a minor slip of the pen elsewhere in the world.

* * * * * * * * *

Dina’s daughter Karin Babbitt, has posted an update on her Mom to members of  the Facebook group Return Dina Babbitt’s Paintings.  (This is an open group, which means that anyone on Facebook can join.)  Part of that message is quoted here:

“Yesterday was the 64th anniversary of her liberation from Auschwitz. She asked for Chinese food. She ate a few mouthfuls of soup and a few bites of other things. It was the only food she has been able to eat all day.

In my classrooms, we tell her story and eat black bread and margarine to represent her first meal after the camps were abandoned.

On 5/5/45, they cautiously emerged from a bunker to find the camp deserted. While others ate, Dina climbed through a hole in the fence, found a blue bicycle and went for her first ride in years. She was 21.

Shortly after, an Italian immigrant rode up on a white farm horse and gave her a ride. She was so weak that she slipped to the underside of the belly. In true form, though, she didn’t let go.

Dina made her way back through the hole in the fence and found her mom, who was eating bread and margarine, getting sick from the shock of food, and trying to eat all over again. My grandmother screamed because she thought my mother had been shot. Dina had scratched her head on the cut wires of the fence and hadn’t realized it!

Today — take a bike ride, hop on a horse, savor some delicious bread. Paint a painting of someone you love and hang it wherever you chose. Enjoy your freedom.

We love you and are so grateful for your continued efforts on behalf of one little lady and artists everywhere!
— Karin Babbitt ”

I’m sure Dina Babbitt has the very best wishes of the hundreds who stand beside her, as we continue to agitate for the return of her Rights, her Dignity, and her property.

If you would care to speak out on this important issue, there is an online petition in the link at the upper left.



Yom Ha Shoah

A day set aside to remember the Holocaust? I think this would be an even more special day if it were possible for one survivor to forget the Holocaust.

Unfortunately, as long has her Human Rights are denied by the arbitrary decisions of the government of Poland and the administrators of the Auschwitz-Birkenau Concentration Camp, Dina Babbitt will live with the knowledge that the Holocaust is proceeding successfully and uninterrupted, in spite of the UN’s stated intention to protect her Human Rights.

I would like to remind Dr Piotr M. A.  Cywinski of  Auschwitz, and President Lech Kaczynski of Poland that their determined refusal to end the tragic  practice of Human Rights Denial, contributes to the ongoing success of Hitler’s Final Solution.

They must be very proud of their efforts on this special day. He may have been slowed to a crawl, but with his practices continued and protected by these two men and their followers, Hitler has not been stopped.

These hard-working gentlemen can be reached at the following addresses:

President Kaczynski

Dr. Piotr M.A. Cywinski

ICOM can be made aware of your concern at this address:

ethics@icom.museum