For the half-year to 31 December 2014, the IPKat's regular team is supplemented by contributions from guest bloggers Rebecca Gulbul, Lucas Michels and Marie-Andrée Weiss.

Regular round-ups of the previous week's blogposts are kindly compiled by Alberto Bellan.

Friday, 19 January 2007

NAZI COPYRIGHT QUESTION


The IPKat has received the following from Thorsten Lauterbach (Robert Gordon University).

"I read an interesting but disturbing article published in the "Sueddeutsche Zeitung" on 16 January 2007: "Mengeles Malerin" ("Mengele's painter") by Reymer Kluever: http://www.sueddeutsche.de/,panm3/leben/artikel/341/98243/

It informs about a copyright dispute between Dina Babbitt and the Museum Auschwitz-Birkenau. Mrs Babbitt (née Gottliebova) had been asked by Auschwitz 'Angel of Death' Josef Mengele to paint portraits and sketches of Concentration Camp prisoners (Sinti and Roma gypsies) who were about to be killed. These pictures would constitute evidence of the alleged inferior, non-Aryan nature of those prisoners, so Mengele. Painting these portraits which she was permitted to sign with her first name saved Mrs Babbitt's life and the life of her mother.

For more than thirty years she has been trying to have these paintings returned to her by the museum (the paintings had been originally acquired by the museum as anonymous works). There is no doubt that she is the author of the works and also the first owner under copyright law, despite some preposterous arguments by the then Polish government during the days of the late Cold War that if anyone had ownership rights it would be Mengele, having "ordered" them.

The museum has been arguing since that these portraits should remain in the museum for the benefit of the many visitors and in the memory of the millions who perished in this camp. The museum maintains that they constitute part of the "heritage of humanity" which should supersede individual copyright claims.

I would be interested if anyone has done any research into these harrowing aspects of copyright law."
If you want to get in touch with Thorsten, email the IPKat, who will forward your message.

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