Thursday, August 6, 2009


DINA BABBITT with her mother, Johanna Gottlieb, in Nice, France, after the War.
DINA BABBITT / JANUARY 21, 1923- JULY 29, 2009
With a portrait of a Gypsy she painted in 1944 at Auschwitz Concentration Camp.
As a prisoner at Auschwitz, Dina Babbitt used her talent as an artist and portrait painter to save her life and that of her mother's.
As a Czech Jew she was sent to Auschwitz in 1943. An art student, she was singled out to decorate the walls in a children's barrack. As bizarre as this seems, someone decided to have this done. She found or stole paints to accomplish this and painted Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, as well as animals, on the walls. Eventually this came to the attention of Josef Mengele, the notorious Nazi doctor known as the Angel of Death. He wanted her to document his experiments, but also asked her to paint portraits of gypsy prisoners. She replied that she would only do this if her mother also was spared. Otherwise she said that she was prepared to walk into the camp's electric fence. The Nazis allowed Dina's mother to join her.
After the war she lived in Paris with her mother. She was interviewed for a job with a cartoonist, an animator, Art Babbitt. She didn't get the job, but eventually married him. Coincidentally, he had worked for Disney on Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. They moved to Los Angeles where she worked as an animator in films, and on cartoons. Her favorite was the commercial she did for Cap'n Crunch cereal.
In recent years Ms. Babbitt sought to bring her paintings home from the Auschwitz-Birkenau Memorial State Museum in Poland. The Museum wouldn't allow her to retrieve them, saying their historical value outweighed her ownership. Recently the Museum has allowed reproduction of the art, allowing them to go to her, but the originals must remain in Poland to maintain their authenticity.
She treasured the paintings as much as the Museum did. A comic book version of her story has been made into a short film,"The Last Outrage". She died in Felton, Cal. at the age of 86


alaine@éclectique said...

How wonderful that she saved her Mother's life.

Lyn said...

Hi Alaine-
She seemed to be a very strong person all her life!

Jeane Myers said...

Lyn, another amazing story from you - thank you so much -

Unknown said...

Hi Lyn,

Wonderful that such a talent was not lost and that she helped to "preserve" the images of others. I'm glad that the museum wanted to keep the originals.

Lyn said...

Hi Jeane-
Thank you..It's amazing to me to find how many heroes have been among us..
The heart of the artist, right?

Lyn said...

Hi Derrick-
Thanks..I agree with you..if the museum were to release them they would just become another commodity.

Deedee said...

Wow. What an exemplary woman. I'd like to see that film-I will look it up...

Lyn said...

Hi Deedee-
It is wonderful to keep on discovering all these special people..most of them artists!
Thank you...


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