Dina Babbitt

Received through Facebook from Karin Babbitt:

Today, July 29, 2009 at 2:15 PM, Dina Gottliebova Babbitt was liberated from Auschwitz.

Dina’s story

Dina Gottliebova-Babbitt was a Holocaust survivor.  She was imprisoned in the Auschwitz Concentration Camp during the Holocaust, where she drew portraits of gypsy inmates for Josef Mengele.

Following the liberation of the camp and the end of the war she emigrated to the US and became an animator. As of now, seven watercolor portraits survive, all located in the Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum.  She has been fighting the Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum for the return of her paintings.

In 1944, while in Auschwitz Concentration Camp, she was chosen by Josef Mengele to draw portraits of gypsy inmates. Mengele wished to capture the gypsies’ skin coloration better than he could do it with camera and film at that time. Once the portraits were complete, the gypsies were sent to their deaths.

Seven of her portraits of inmate gypsies were discovered after World War II outside the Auschwitz camp in the early 1970s and sold to the Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum by people who apparently did not know that Dina was still alive and living in California. The Museum asked Babbitt to make the painful trip to the Auschwitz site in 1973 to identify her work. After she did so, she was informed that the Museum would not allow her to take her paintings home. This refusal to return her work to her was a re-incarceration as a spiritual hostage of the Auschwitz death camp.

The Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum claims that because it purchased the paintings from third parties, it does not have to return Babbitt’s works, rejecting her claims and requests to return the paintings. Dina felt that true spiritual liberation would not come until the portraits were returned to her.

Both the United States House of Representatives and United States Senate have passed resolutions in support of Dina Babbitt.

In collaboration with Rafael Medoff, director of the David S. Wyman Institute for Holocaust Studies, comic book industry legend Neal Adams has championed Babbitt’s efforts. Using text from Medoff, Adams illustrated a six-page graphic documentary about Babbitt that was inked by Joe Kubert and contains an introduction by Stan Lee. A reprint of the graphic documentary and an account of Babbitt’s plight were included in the final issue of the comic X-Men: Magneto Testament.

Dina Gottliebova-Babbitt was diagnosed with an aggressive form of abdominal cancer.  Over the past few days her condition deteriorated and on July 29 at 2:15 pm she passed away.  She did not live to see her paintings liberated.

You can learn more about Dina Babbitt at http://www.dinababbitt.com/