Maus by Art Spiegelman

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Maus by Art Spiegelman

Stories of the Past

Maus by Art Spiegelman, is a retelling of the Nazis reign of power from the eyes of the author's father, who suffered through the horrid times as a Jewish man. This chilling tale shines light onto some of the more heartbreaking parts of the era. A key area of this was how quick the polish people were willing to turn on their jewish neighbors.

Two panels in the story caught my eye in this regard. The first instance appeared on page 137, where an old neighbor of the family recognized Anja and started yelling “There;s a Jewess in the courtyard! Police!” It was terrifying to know that even with them living there for years, this old witch of a woman, as they described her was willing to rat them out the instant she saw them. It chilled me to my very core to know these people could not trust a single soul even in the town they lived in for years.

The second instance that this fact struck me was on page 140 of the book, where the father recounts, “I traveled often with the streetcar into town. It was two cars. One was only for germans and officials. The second, it was only for poles. Always I went for the official car. The germans paid no attention of me… in the polish car they could smell if a polish jew came in.” Before I was aware that polish and jewish relationships had been tense, even before the rise of the nazi party, but never did I think a jewish man in hiding at these times would feel safer around the germans then the polish.

The United States Holocaust Memorial Museum states on their website that the jewish population in Poland dropped from three million to just over forty-five thousand. That was almost 99% of the whole population wiped out. The article explains that Poland had the largest population of jewish families before the war began and in the end also had the most jewish deaths tied to it at the end of the war. The fear and distrust that filled the jewish