Saturday, July 26, 2008


This is one of those stories where we go back a bit in history.

Dinah Gottliebova Babbitt was a young Jewish inmate at Auschwitz. When it was discovered that she was an artist, she was ordered by Joseph Mengele to paint the portraits of Gypsy prisoners. In his attempt to "aryanize the Roma", he wanted more realistic representations of their skin tones than cameras could capture. He's the same guy who injected dye into the eyes of Gypsy twins to turn their dark eyes blue. Something NPR once referred to as "the benign Gypsy twin eye study". Dinah developed a relationship with the Roma, especially with one young woman (see photo).

After the liberation of Auschwitz, several of Dina's portraits were found. Since that time, those paintings have been held by the Auschwitz museum. To this day, they have refused to return the paintings to Dina. It's a long story and I'll leave it to the following article to present it.

What I want to say is that one of the reasons the museum states in its refusal to return Dina's work to her is absolutely false and exploitative to the Roma. They have stated that one reason to not return the pictures is that it is evidence of the persecution of the Roma.
Dina's portraits do document the horror of Auschwitz for the Roma. As does Dina's heart and soul. THE COPIES of the works of art are sufficient. That is all that has EVER been exhibited at the museum.

Please do not exploit a woman who gave her soul to her Romani fellow prisoners. And especially not in our name.

I keep trying to get the link to a great article written by Dina's daughters. I'm having some problems so in the mean time I'll give you her webpage.

For your information, there is a great interview with Dina in a movie PORRAIMOS where I first became acquianted with Ms Babbitt.

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