Dina Gottliebova Babbitt is a woman who has a rich history; she was in the concentration camp, Auschwitz with her mother in 1944. Dina was a 20 something, young woman who had an artistic talent. She had been an art student before she was sent to Auschwitz. While in the camp, she decided to do something daring and she painted Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs on the walls of the children’s barracks, in an attempt to cheer them up. This was bravery, as the consequences would be severe if she was caught.
When it was discovered what she had done…she was called before Dr. Mengele who was also known as the Angel of Death in the camp. She could have been sent to the gas chamber like so many others were. Instead, she was ordered by Dr. Josef Mengele to paint portraits for him of the gypsies in the camp; as well as, to draw pictures of the many horrible “medical experiments” that he performed on those who were imprisoned in the camp. Dina thought for many years that the portraits of the gypsies were destroyed. It was in performing the artwork in the camp that her life and that of her mother were spared.
In fact the portraits were not destroyed…they were sold to the Auschwitz-Burkenau State Museum after the war ended. There are seven watercolor portraits of the gypsies; and, Dina Babbitt would like them returned. Dina says that she feels that neither she, nor the gypsies can have spiritual freedom unless the portraits are returned to her. I would imagine that Dina poured her soul into those portraits. After all, how can you look upon such individuals, knowing their probable fate, and trace their very visage upon the canvas; and, not be one with them in spirit? She has much support internationally; however, at this point, the museum allegedly refuses to return them. You can write to the museum here in support of Dina: email@example.com .
You can also visit Dina’s website to learn more about her and see some of her work here: http://www.dinababbitt.com/ .
After WWII, Dinah was hired as an assistant to Art Babbitt who was working for Warner Brother’s in Paris at the time; and, who was a former Disney animator who worked on Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. They fell in love and later married, Dina was Art’s second wife. Together they raised two daughters, Michele and Karin. At least some good came out of such an evil time in history. Their love and marriage I am sure brought about a healing balm. After all, Dina used the images of the talented animator to soothe the young children, who daily faced death daily in the concentration camps. It is as if God himself sent a bit of the comforter to them thru Dina and the artistry of two talented artists.
Dina was born on January 21, 1923 in Czechoslovakia, but, is now a U.S. citizen. Just as recently as this past summer of 2008, Dina was diagnosed with an aggressive tumor in her abdomin and was scheduled to have surgery performed to remove it. It is her most fervent desire to have her portraits returned to her so that she can hold them in her hands one more time before she passes away. She would like to see the portraits visit the Holocaust museums in the United States! Please feel free to contact her family to help support their cause of the return the portraits to a woman who risked much to bring a smile to the children of Auschwitz; here is an email address: firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com .
This time in history can never be forgotten or denied. If by looking into the faces of the victims of the concentration camps helps to make it real…then Dina Gottliebova Babbitt has used her talents in a very serviceable way. Those portraits bring the horrible cost of forgetting that those who are different from us are still human and deserve to live life to it’s fullest. It should not be up to another individual or organization to get to decide who should live and who should die. We must uphold the lessons learned from setting back and waiting for the world to right itself in the area of human rights. May the powers that be bring Dina’s portraits home to her, to soothe her heart and her soul.