Title: Maus (I: My Father Bleeds History & II: And Here My Troubles Began)
Author: Art Spiegelman
No. of pages: Paperback; 159 & 136
Genre: History, Nonfiction, Autobiography, Memoir, Graphic Novels, Comics, World War II, Holocaust
Publication Date: August 12, 1986; September 1992
Date Read: January 5, 2017
When I was in 4th or 5th grade, I saw a girl in my class reading these books. She carried them around for weeks and I never forgot them. I’ve always wanted to read them and now I finally have. I’ve also been interested in reading up on World War II and the Holocaust, not to glorify it, but to pay homage to those that were victims in a mass genocide that was caused by a man who was manipulative, prejudiced, and power hungry. I’ve wanted to hear the survivors stories because if we don’t listen to what they say, and listen to what they’ve been through, we’ll never learn how to stop something like the Holocaust from happening in the future. If you don’t learn from history, it tends to repeat itself, and the Holocaust is something that should NEVER be repeated.
Maus is the autobiographical memoir of Art Spiegelman, who recorded his father’s story of survival in Poland, Germany, and Auschwitz during World War II. Spiegelman, who was born after the war, wanted to share his father, Vladek’s, story. Through graphic novelization, Spiegelman drew and narrated the meeting of his parents, the history of what happened before the war, his father’s service in the army, the hardships that his mother and father went through—from sending their first child away to “safety”, trying to find safety themselves, living and hiding in the ghettos, and then the months that his father spent in Auschwitz under the eyes of the Kapo, suffering with Typhoid and starvation, being versatile in jobs so that he would be useful to the S.S. and able to stay alive, and ultimately the ending of the war, being saved by the American troops and finally returning to Poland and being reunited with his wife, Anja. Not only does the story cover Vladek’s story of survival, but it also shows the relationships between Spiegelman and his father while he is recording the story: in the first book at Vladek’s house in New York with his second wife Mala (also a survivor), and in the second book the majority is in the Catskill Mountains while Vladek is on vacation. This book also shows how Spiegelman, a child of a survivor, also is plagued by the memories and nightmares of those that survived. He himself is a survivor and lives on to tell the story of those who can’t.
This story, for me, is one that I’ll never forget. Vladek’s story caused me to feel so many things and I didn’t want it to end or to put it down because this is a real person’s account of life. This happened not only to him but to so many other people; many of which, we’ll never know who they are. Entire families unable to tell their story are seen through the words of one that went through it and survived against all odds. Books like this one; LIVES like this one, deserved to have their story told. And I’m so glad that I got to read Vladek’s story and I’m so grateful for Art Spiegelman who got to tell his father’s story to the world.