Free Dina’s Art

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.


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.

Human Dignity and the Love Life of Wild Goats

It has been a month now,  since I received an acknowledgment from the Chairperson of the ICOM Ethics Committee, Bernice Murphy of Australia, concerning the Auschwitz Museum and Dina Babbitt’s Gypsy portraits.

The Auschwitz Museum has been designated a World Heritage Site. But does it deserve that status while it is in violation of the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights?

Is it possible for a  site to have its World Heritage Status revoked? Yes, it is.

This has already been done in Oman when the government unilaterally decided to reduce the area set aside for wild goats to breed.  UNESCO clearly respects an endangered species’ right to a robust sex life. I believe that Human Rights are of a degree of importance right up there with the love life of endangered goats. Frankly, I think human rights are even more important than wild goats’ rights.

I have brought this matter to the attention of the ICOM Ethics Committee once again, with the following letter:

Date: 25 March 2009 (11:43 pm/Canada)
From: Tim Thibeault
To: Chair, ICOM Ethics Committee (Bernice Murphy)
Re: Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights

Dear Ms Murphy,

I am writing to request any update you might be able to provide concerning the Auschwitz Museum’s refusal to comply with the articles of the UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights as they apply to the artworks of Auschwitz prisoner #61016, Dina Gottliebova-Babbitt, and the ICOM Ethics Committee’s opinions of, and possible responses to, that institutionalized intransigence.

While I am a little dismayed at having to press this issue so unrelentingly, I would offer Mrs Babbitt’s declining health and her ongoing battle with cancer as reasons to suggest that timeliness is of the utmost importance in dealing with this matter.

I think a reasonable person might agree that the return of these artworks to Mrs Babbitt’s heirs, or to her grave site,  would constitute one last and mighty victory for Dr Josef Mengele and his administrative successors at the Auschwitz Concentration Camp over Mrs Babbitt herself and her simple request that someone show some modicum of  respect for her Human Rights while she is still alive.

In such an event, Mrs Babbitt would have lived and died a powerless victim of Auschwitz’s Nazi Heritage and of all those who refused to act or speak out against its arbitrarily defined mandate. I believe this would constitute a pitiable miscarriage of justice, a sickening corruption of morality, and would fly in the face of any ethical goals proclaimed by ICOM and by UNESCO.

I further believe that it is now time to reconsider Auschwitz-Birkenau’s claim to World Heritage Site Status, at least until that Museum and the Government of Poland  respect the UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

If UNESCO was willing to revoke the WHS Status of Oman’s Arabian Oryx Sanctuary (June 2008), it seems not at all improper to suggest that similar consequences might accrue to an organization in continuing hypocritical defiance of Human Rights.

Is there anyone at ICOM who would argue that the breeding rights of an endangered desert goat should be offered a greater and more forceful defense than the rights and dignity of an endangered human being who has suffered, for more than 35 years, the spiritually debilitating effects of self-serving institutional cruelty and societal disinterest? I truly hope not.

Sincerely yours,

Tim Thibeault

March 4, 2009 – update
March 4, 2009, 6:19 pm
Filed under: Active Decency | Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

On February 24, 2009, I made a formal request of the International Council of Museums that their Ethics Committee look into the question of Dina Babbitt’s Gypsy Portraits and the Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum’s refusal to comply with ICOM’s rules and recommendations concerning war art restitution, as well as what I consider to be the Museum’s blatant disregard for the UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

I received a very prompt and courteous reply indicating that our concerns will be reviewed by the Ethics Committee in the immediate future, allowing time only for prior commitments of the committee’s members.

I have no doubt whatever that ICOM will act promptly and thoroughly in reviewing our concerns. In fact, I hope to hear back from the committee any day now.

While awaiting those developments, it might be illuminating to visit some related sites and learn how other countries and institutions deal with plundered war art.

Below are a few links to  sites found by doing a search for “war art returned”.  (Each link will open in a new window.)

Germany:                                                                                                                              World War II and the Looted Art Problem

Occupied Territories, Neutral countries and Latin America – May 1945:                         The Documentation Project

Great Britain                                                                                                                  ArtResolve : alternative dispute resolution for works of art and antiquity

International:                                                                                                                      ICOM Recommendations concerning the Return of Works of Art Belonging to Jewish Owners

The Museum’s Prompt Reply
February 12, 2009, 3:25 pm
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Tuesday’s letter got a prompt reply. Either it was sufficiently polite, or the copy to ICOM helped persuade the museum. In either case, the stance apparently hasn’t changed at all, yet.

For what it’s worth, here it is:


Oświęcim, February 11th, 2009 11/         /2009

Mr. Tim Thibeault

Dear Mr. Thibeault,

Reffering to your e-mail dated February 9th, 2009 we would like to confirm that we have received your letter to the International Council of Museums (ICOM) in the issue of the watercolors by Mrs. Dina Gottliebova-Babbitt on the order of the SS-Haupsturmfuehrer dr. Joseph Mengele.

Once again we want to stress that we fully understands Ms Dina Gottliebova-Babbitt’s emotional attitude towards the works made in the past in conditions which undoubtedly influenced her life. However, our moral and statutory duty obliges us to preserve all evidence dating back to the wartime and related with the Auschwitz concentration and death camp and to prevent this evidence from being dispersed in any way.
Every single loss of even the smallest part of the documentation will be an irreparable loss and a shadow on the memory of Auschwitz Concentration Camp victims.

These water-colours depicting Gypsies who perished in Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp contribute significantly to commemoration and the increase in the awareness of the mass murder of Sinti and Roma and they are also an example of a cruel pseudo-scientific activity performed by Joseph Mengele, the result of which was murdering thousands of human lives. In the connection with a small number of objects documenting the extermination of Gypsies in KL Auschwitz, these portraits have paramount meaning as a historical document and play the role of the evidence of the crime, which cannot be replaced with a copy.

Below you will find the link to the extensive article concerning the issue of the portraits, made in Auschwitz Concentration Camp by Dina Gottliebova-Babbitt on SS-Haupsturmfuehrer Josef Mengele’s orders:

We hope that this information will help you closer familiarize with the issue and understand our statement.

Yours sincerely,

Dr. Piotr M.A.Cywiński
Museum Director


Now. I’m going out for a nice, calm walk, and I’m going to scream at some birds and wildlife, and vent my feelings as much as possible.

(Right this minute, I think the intransigence of this response would be enough to make Mother Theresa shake a baby.)

Then, I’m going to reply to this letter in as calm and rational a manner as I can possibly force myself to do.  But I will say right now that I’m not very impressed with this dude’s grasp of the concept of Human Rights.

64 Years of Liberation?

January 27, 2009 marks 64 years of hypocrisy for the Auschwitz-Birkenau Concentration Camp. Festivities were held in the town of Oswiecim to celebrate the taking of the camp by Russian troops who found the few remaining prisoners, those who were too weak or sick to be included in the death march arranged by their captors.

Some people however, note that January 27th marks only 64 years of continuing disregard for the Human Rights of persons whose property is of greater value to political propagandists – those who sing a song of liberty, but dance the dance of institutional superiority over individual human rights.

How sad that one of the prisoners of that camp is still suffering from the policies that refuse to recognize her Human Rights. Maybe Auschwitz hasn’t been all that liberated after all. Amidst all the hoopla, remembrance,  and  fine-sounding hypocrisies of the politicians of Poland and the European Union, there is still one small, unheard voice that cries out for the recognition of her rights. On this 64th anniversary she remains abused by her persecutors and ignored by those in the thrall of their own self-congratulations.

When will Auschwitz truly be liberated? When the administrators of the Auschwitz State Museum finally liberate themselves from the unthinking need to steal from their former inmates in order to accomplish their own goals “for the good of society.” Only then, will they have a message worthy of passing on to the younger generations of the world. Until then, it’s just the same old Auschwitz with a new administration self-righteously insensitive to the rights and humanity of its victims.

Congratulations to you, Polish Culture Ministry and European Union. As one recent hero of freedom has said, “You’re doing a heck of a job!”

Human Rights in Poland
Polish Flag

Polish Flag

The Polish Government’s Statement on Human Rights since its accession into the European Union in 2004.

They say in part, “…As the democratic system in Poland stabilised (sic), and the rule of law and respect for human rights became one of the basic guidelines in public life, these developments constituted an important step towards Poland’s membership of the Council of Europe, the North Atlantic Treaty and the European Union…”

And there is more. Read it and weep.

Then respond to the President of Poland, Mr. Lech Kaczynski. (bottom right of page)

About 100 words ought to suffice.