Anchor Staff Writer
Disclaimer: This review discusses the Holocaust and its ramifications. Please proceed with caution.
The graphic novel “Maus” by Art Spiegelman has been on my reading list for a long time. It was recommended to me by my best friend. Earlier this year, I was finally able to purchase the complete edition at a New York City bookstore. This gave me a chance to read both volumes. “Maus” is one of those books set in a different decade that’s so vivid and detailed, it makes the reader feel like they’ve been transported back in time. “Maus” doesn't just talk about the Holocaust, it relives it in all of its horror and bloodshed.
But of course, no matter how detailed the book is, the reader will never be able to fully grasp what happened during those dark days; certainly not as much as the people who lived through them. Generational trauma on this scale cannot be fully grasped by those who have not experienced it for themselves. So, as I proceed with this review, keep in mind that no matter my connections to this tragedy, I still will never fully know it.
“Maus” is the story of a mouse named Vladek Spiegelman, who in 1958 begins to tell his son his story and what happened to him throughout the Holocaust. Over the course of two volumes and seven parts, Vladek is constantly on the run, fleeing from location to location. He endures a harsh existence both as a citizen trying to live in the flames of antisemitism and German nationalism, and as a prisoner spending every waking moment dragging himself through the bitter cold. Reading this book is a harrowing experience from beginning to end.
That being said, it is a necessary read.
Right now, there are far too many people who deny that the Holocaust ever happened despite the glaring evidence that says otherwise. There is no pretending the Holocaust was some kind of elaborate hoax. As someone who has Eastern European and Jewish relatives, the idea that somebody could dismiss such an atrocious event as mere fantasy makes my blood boil.
“Maus” is a grim reminder not just to never forget these tragedies but to learn from the horrors of the past, so as to not repeat them. How can we learn from history if false narratives are constantly being created? If people are constantly modifying the facts to either paint a person or a group of people in a better light or unfairly vilify them to the point of absurdity, how will future historians ever be able to discern the truth?
Denial is a powerful thing and it needs to be stopped before it's too late. If we wait to curb the tendency of individuals to ignore such events like the Holocaust, to pass them off as mere fiction, then what is considered history and what is considered fiction could become one and the same. For the sake of future generations, we need to make books like “Maus” required reading so that their lessons can continue to ring loud and true so that way, we can fight to ensure a better and more peaceful world for our descendents.
Some stories need to be told and “Maus” highlights one of the most important.
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