Comic Fights for Shoah Artwork

The last installment of an X-Men comic book mini-series includes the true story of an artist who was forced to paint in Auschwitz by Josef Mengele.

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Nissan Ratzlav-Katz , | updated: 12:45

Image from "The Last Outrage"
Image from "The Last Outrage"
Photo: Marvel Comics

The last installment of a Marvel X-Men comic book mini-series, released this month, includes a separate illustrated strip based on the true story of Mrs. Dina Babbitt, who was forced to paint in Auschwitz by the notorious "Angel of Death", Dr. Josef Mengele. Babbitt, a California resident, has been fighting for return of seven of her portraits from
The "The Last Outrage" is a rare collaboration between three of the biggest names in comic book history.
the Auschwitz State Museum, a Polish government-funded museum on the site of the former death camp.

The comic strip, called "The Last Outrage", appears in the fifth and climactic issue of Marvel Comics' X-Men: Magneto Testament. The five-issue mini-series reveals that the powers of Magneto, arch-nemesis of the X-Men, originated in his experiences as a victim of the Holocaust. Because of the comic book's Holocaust theme, Marvel felt it would be appropriate to include "The Last Outrage" as a supplementary story.

While imprisoned in Auschwitz in 1944, Dina Babbitt risked her life to paint a mural of Snow White in the children's barracks at Auschwitz, to cheer up the children in their final hours. An image from Mrs. Babbitt’s recent re-creation of that mural is included in "The Last Outrage". When Mengele learned of Mrs. Babbitt's artistic talent, he ordered her to paint portraits of a number of Gypsy prisoners on whom he planned to perform experiments. Some of those portraits are also reprinted, in miniature, in the new Marvel strip.

After the Holocaust, Mrs. Babbitt settled in northern California and worked for many years as an animator for Warner Brothers and other cartoon producers, drawing characters such as Tweety Bird, Speedy Gonzalez, Daffy Duck, Wile E. Coyote, and Cap'n Crunch.

During the 1960s, the Auschwitz State Museum acquired seven of the Babbitt portraits, but has refused to return them to her, claiming the paintings "belong to history" rather than to their creator. Museum spokesmen have even claimed that Mengele is the legal owner.

The "The Last Outrage" is a rare collaboration between three of the biggest names in comic book history - Neal Adams, Joe Kubert, and Stan Lee - along with Holocaust historian Dr. Rafael Medoff. The afterword for the strip was written by Lee, longtime publisher of Marvel Comics and co-creator of Spider-Man, the Hulk, the Fantastic Four, the X-Men, and many other famous characters. It was inked partly by Kubert, a highly influential artist and editor for DC Comics for more than fifty years, and Adams, one of the most popular and influential artists in the comic book industry. Kubert also created the acclaimed graphic novel Yossel: 1943, which imagines the experiences of a teenage cartoonist trapped in the Warsaw Ghetto.

"The fight for justice can be fought on many fronts, including through the medium of comic books," said Medoff, director of The David S. Wyman Institute for Holocaust Studies. "Neal Adams has brought the Babbitt struggle to life as only he can, and Marvel Comics has generously provided an international forum for this important cause."



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