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



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.)



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.



February 2010 – Waiting for Word…
February 11, 2010, 6:24 pm
Filed under: Active Decency | Tags: , , , ,

It has been three months since the  ICOM Ethics  Committee met in Paris. The matter of Dina Babbitt’s Art and Human Rights was, I believe, on the agenda of that meeting, at least as a point of discussion.

It may be overly optimistic to look for results so soon. I’m hoping not. Knowing that the Ethics Committee is very earnest in its work, and having already sent the following message, I am now wondering if I am being too pushy too soon, or if 12 weeks is a reasonable amount of time after which to seek out fresh information to confirm that Dina’s Art and her Human Rights are not forgotten.

Well, hasty or not, here is the most recent missive to my contact at ICOM.

February 10, 2010 (12:50 hrs EST)
Ottawa, Canada

Dear Mrs Murphy,

I am writing to request any further information you might be able to offer on the matter of the Auschwitz Museum and Dina Babbitt’s human rights claims, specifically the return of her Gypsy portraits.

Since Mrs Babbitt’s recent death, the museum’s current practice now encroaches on the human rights of not just one person, but of five, Mrs. Babbitt’s heirs.

I appreciate that the Ethics Committee, no doubt, has a full roster of issues and one that encompasses many larger problems than this. Nevertheless I believe that human rights, defined as clearly as they are in the UN Universal Declaration, should be a concept readily accessible to any thinking person, most particularly to those who work where humanity’s extremes of good and evil are most starkly documented.

I thank you for your efforts and whatever information you can provide at this time, as well as for the many other instances where the Ethics Committee works to achieve a global standard of humanly respectable museum practices and policies. It is commendable work toward a worthy goal.

Sincerely,

Tim Thibeault

cc: Karin Babbitt
cc: Michele Kane
cc: http://FreeDinasArt.wordpress.com



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.



Worldwide Ethics
December 8, 2009, 1:33 am
Filed under: Active Decency | Tags: , , , , , ,

While awaiting further word from Paris on Dina Babbitt’s Gypsy portraits, it might be helpful to look at another issue recently discussed by the ICOM Ethics Committee.

The Committee met in October of this year and at least one of the issues on their agenda made headlines concerning international affairs. Here is a report from Taiwan News Online concerning ICOM’s take on museum artifacts and the importance of ethical provenance:

Taiwan News Online – October 28, 2009

The provenance of Dina Babbitt’s paintings does not support the Auschwitz Museum’s claims to ownership, and the decision to deprive her of her property is clearly both arbitrary on the part of the International Auschwitz Council, and a violation of her Human Rights.

Those in support of Dina Babbitt’s Human Rights are waiting now for news from ICOM, and from the Auschwitz Museum.