Wednesday, April 11, 2012

MAUS, for The Day of Remembrance....

Today is the day that the death camp Buchenwald was liberated by the US 89th Infantry in 1945.

It has become an important date in Holocaust remembrances, as it was the first time the Western world was confronted with irrefutable evidence that the Holocaust was real. Anyone who says the Holocaust was a lie is an idiot. Unfortunately, heart-breakingly, it was all too true.

Nazi Hunter Elie Wiesel is 7th man on 2nd row
Forty years later, cartoonist Art Spiegelman finally succeeded in translating his father's oral history of his experiences in Germany and Poland in World War II into a "cartoon" version called MAUS. This book won a special Pulitzer Prize in 1992 as well as the Eisner Award, the Harvey Award, and the Los Angeles Book Award.

In Spiegelman's world, Jews are mice and Nazis are cats. Poles are pigs. Other nationalities are dogs. This sounds silly, but if you actually read the story it works much more dramatically than you think it would. (Click on the page below for a larger version for a representation of his genius.)

If you haven't read this wonderful book yet, you should. In college I read this and This Way For the Gas, Ladies and Gentlemen by Tadeusz Borowski. Of these, MAUS is the more accessible and therefore more powerful. You can read about how it felt to be trapped, but there is something incredibly powerful about the image of the mouse above trapped in his Star of David. And the silhouettes of the persecuted Jews in the bottom panel with only the woman's pearls not in darkness is a starkly powerful image. The books are full of things like this.

If your library doesn't have it, ask them to get it. They should have it. If you can't wait, you can get the joint collection (books 1 and 2) at or

Never Forget. Never Repeat.

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