Dina Gottliebova Babbitt
was born in Brno, Czechoslovakia in 1923. She was a 19-year-old art student when she was sent to Theresienstadt. In 1943, Babbitt and her mother were deported to Auschwitz, where they were kept in a special Family Camp. Babbitt tried to cheer the children by painting a mural on the barrack wall of "Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs."
The mural attracted the attention of the notorious Dr. Mengele, the Angel of Death, known for his horrific medical experiments. Frustrated that modern color photography could not accurately capture the skin tones of his Gypsy “patients,” Mengele ordered Babbitt to paint watercolor portraits of them. One of her subjects was a girl named Celine, who became a friend. Celine is shown with a blue scarf and one ear protruding. Babbitt explains, “Because Mengele,” obsessed with ideas of racial purity, “wanted to see how the ear was formed.” Soon after Babbitt completed 11 portraits, the entire Gypsy camp was gassed, Celine with them.
Seven of the 11 portraits that saved Babbitt remain where she created them, on display at the Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum in Poland. "These are my paintings; they belong to me, my soul is in them, and without these paintings I wouldn’t be alive,” she says. Babbitt has requested that the “Gypsies” be returned to her but the Museum refuses, claiming they do not belong to her but are part of the Polish National Treasury and must remain as evidence of the history of Nazi atrocities. The pieces here are photographic copies sent by the Auschwitz Museum.
A Congressional resolution supports Babbitt’s request. Groups petitioning support
of Babbitt’s claim on her paintings are trying to sway the Auschwitz-Birkenau
State Museum, thus far to no avail. More than 450 artists, including animators
Stan Lee and Neal Adams, support her position. If you would like more information on how to support Babbitt’s cause, please visit: www.DinaBabbitt.com.