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10 June 2008

Dina Babbitt

This is a very quick, very rough portrait sketch of artist Dina Babbitt based on a photo found via Google. Ms. Babbitt was a prisoner of Auschwitz during WWII who helped herself and her mother survive largely through her art. While at the camp, she was assigned by Josef Mengele to paint portraits of some of the gypsy prisoners, apparently because he did not think the film stock at the time captured their coloration correctly. She came to his notice by painting a mural of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs in the children's barracks, and fittingly, later went on to marry Art Babbitt, the chief animator on that Disney film.
At present, her gypsy paintings are kept in the Auschwitz-Birkenau museum. She has requested that they be returned to her for a number of very personal reasons, not least of which that she feels that the subjects they portray need to be finally freed from Auschwitz. Her requests have been denied to date on the basis that the paintings are an essential piece of the history of the place.
There is currently a petition circulating to have her paintings returned to her. Anyone interested can read about and get instructions to digitally sign the petition via this page at The Comics Reporter.

I've just finished listening to an interview with Ms. Babbitt on CBC Radio's "The Current". Considering a recent discussion I've entered at the Bruno the Bandit forums, it seemed especially relevant. Listening to her speak was fascinating, not only because of her singular experience, but also because of the dignity with which she presented herself. She strikes me as a very self-actualized person with a strong appreciation of her own existence, which I suppose would follow logically from the events of her life. Considering that we live in a time when everything from spilled coffee to a parking ticket becomes the cause for a lawsuit, a public inquiry, or indignant demands for justice, I was surprised at how undemanding and sincere Ms. Babbitt sounded in the face of the true injustices she has endured. In that, I think she may be a model for understanding the quality of individual existence and questioning why we assign value to the things we do and own.
For anyone interested, the interview with Ms. Babbitt will apparently be archived at I strongly recommend giving it a listen.

1 comment:

Unknown said...

Thank you. - Karin Babbitt