Free Dina’s Art

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.


Tim Thibeault
March 25, 2011
Ottawa, Canada



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.)

Any News Yet?
September 23, 2009, 4:24 am
Filed under: Active Decency | Tags: , , , , , , ,

Research into the UN Human Rights Council complaints procedure indicates that a complaint will not be heard by the UN Human  Rights  Council while it is already being considered by another organization (such as ICOM).

So, another twelve weeks having passed, the appropriate course of action seems to be to write a follow up note to the Ethics Committee.


September 23, 2009
Ottawa, Canada

Dear Mrs Murphy,

Another three months has passed, and I am writing to enquire if there has been any progress in ICOM’s investigation into the Auschwitz Birkenau State Museum and the portraits painted there by Dina Babbitt. More directly perhaps, I am seeking reassurance that this matter has not been allowed to fall aside, or diminish in importance, since the death of Mrs. Babbitt on July 29th this year. It remains a question of an ongoing Human Rights violation by a UNESCO endorsed institution.

As you may recall, it was Mrs Babbitt’s most heartfelt desire that her works should be returned to her own hands, “…the hands that made them…”, and then be passed on to her children and grandchildren since her interaction with the subjects of the portraits, and their individual roles in Dina Babbitt’s life story, constitute a vital part of her legacy.

I believe, Mrs Murphy, that the moments passed in the making of those portraits represented for Dina Babbitt, a sense of knowing powerlessness that is, mercifully, inaccessible to a majority of contemporary people. In a brief note to me in January of this year, Mrs Babbitt said, in part,”…But when I was refused to take my paintings home in 1973 at the museum, I felt as helpless as when I was a prisoner again…”

Can we honestly suppose that any institution should be so empowered? Is there any statement in any document from the UN, UNESCO, or ICOM that supports the right of the Museum to deprive Dina Babbitt of her property?  I believe not.

I look forward to any information you can provide at this time and I thank you.


Tim Thibeault
Ottawa, Canada

cc: Karin Babbitt
cc: Michele Kane


“…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:

Arbitrarily Yours
August 27, 2009, 12:26 am
Filed under: Active Decency | Tags: , , , , , ,

The United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights, in Article 17.2 declares, “No one shall be arbitrarily deprived of his property.” You’ve probably seen that someplace before, eh?

The decision by every consecutive administration of Auschwitz, that the interests of their institution should outweigh the declared Human Rights of #61016, is an arbitrary decision. This has been the case since that institution opened its gates for business in the first half of the last century. More recent administrations have addressed her by her human name, but all have , effectively, treated Dina Babbitt as a number, a thing,  unworthy of full human rights. I wish they would stop that.

What I want to find out now is this: who makes the final decision as to whether keeping Dina Babbitt’s Art from her was, and is, an arbitrary decision? I want to know, who exactly is the arbiter of arbitrariness?

That person (or committee) decides whether the good folks at Auschwitz are in violation of the Declaration of Human Rights, and what can be done to rectify that violation. That’s somebody with an interesting job. Probably an interesting person, too.

I wonder if it’s someone who works at UNESCO?