Connect to share and comment

Struggle in Poland over Jewish war diaries

The fight over diaries full of graphic detail about Nazi atrocities.

Last year, Dina Gottlieb-Babbitt, a former Auschwitz inmate who had painted seven portraits of imprisoned Gypsies for Josef Mengele, the sadistic death camp doctor, was told that she would not be able to take the pictures because of their historical importance.

Poland, which has been ravaged by wars and occupations for centuries, is particularly stringent about preventing antiquities and historically important documents from leaving the country. Any painting dated from before the war needs special permission to be exported.

Those types of restrictions are particularly galling for Jews, who made up about 10 percent of Poland's population before the war but now number only a few thousand. The bulk of Jews with Polish roots now live out of the country and feel few ties with the country that was once home to their ancestors.

“This is a personal memoir for me, not a Polish cultural artifact,” Milch-Sheriff said.