Dina Gottlieb was an 18-year-old art student in Prague in January 1942 when she accompanied her mother to the Theresienstadt concentration camp. After surviving there for about 18 months she was deported to the concentration camp at Auschwitz, where she was housed for several months in the infamous children’s barracks or Kinderblock. To help the younger children, who were kept separate from their parents, she used her skills to draw pictures from the film Snow White on the walls children’s barracks.  Her artwork came to the attention of Dr. Josef Mengele, the notorious camp doctor who conducted gruesome experiments on inmates, especially children. 

Mengele ordered Dina to paint portraits of a group of Gypsies before they were subjected to his experiments. Mengele felt that her color portraits were better records for his experiments than black and white photography. Dina also painted portraits of Nazi officers.  Because of her artistic talent, Dina was kept alive while so many others were murdered. She was even able to persuade Mengele to protect her mother. All of the other Czech Kinderblock children who were unprotected were gassed and murdered on March 7-8, 1944 to make space for new arrivals

Dina managed to survive and after the war she met and married Art Babbitt, an animator who by coincidence had worked on Walt Disney’s Snow White movie. Dina moved to Los Angeles, where she also worked on cartoons, including Wile E. Coyote. Several decades after the war, Dina’s watercolor portraits of the Gypsies at Auschwitz were re-discovered and sold to the Auschwitz camp museum. Dina tried very hard for almost thirty years to recover these artworks, but the museum refused to return them to her. She obtained reproductions and donated them to this museum. Dina Babbitt died in July 2009.