It is difficult to imagine the horrors that happened in Europe during the Holocaust. The truly sad thing is that racial genocide has been carried out several times since the Holocaust. Personally, I have studied the Holocaust in vain trying to make some kind of sense out of it. I have made my own conclusions and studied the Holocaust to a point where nothing surprised me when it came to the lack of human compassion. Many people say, “Wow, that was a horrible thing that happened!” What people do not realize however, is that this “thing” happens over and over again. The really sad part is that they happen right under our noses.
• 1.7 million Cambodians during 1975-1979.
• Sudan of genocide for killing more than 2 million civilians in the south during an ongoing civil war since 1983.
• The murder of thousands of Kurds in northern Iraq by Hussein in 1980’s.
• Organized ethnic cleansing carried out by Serbs against Croats, Roma, and Bosnians throughout the period. More than 7,000 Muslim men and boys were massacred in Srebrenica in July 1995.
• The Rwandan Genocide of 937,000 Rwandan Tutsis including women and children and Hutu moderates at the hands of Hutu militias and the Hutu-dominated government in 1994.
Just to name a recent few. I suppose that learning about what “is” happening becomes more important when we educate our students about diversity and racial issues. It is baffling to think that people could hate each other so much to kill just because they think that someone is different.
As for the subject of Maus, I would like to address the racial issues placed on the characters in the book. I do not know if Spiegelman is simply being ironic in his racial representation of the characters in Maus or if he is really a racist. The Jews are mice, the Nazi’s are cats, the poles are pigs, and the Americans are dogs. I can see why the Jews are mice and the Nazi’s are cats considering the actions of the Nazi’s and Jews during the Holocaust. The cats chase the mice and the dogs chase the cats. The poles as pigs are a little confusing because I associate pigs with dirty and greed. I can see the greed part because in order to help the Jews, the polish people always needed money or something of material value. On the other hand, they were poor and risking their lives in order to help the Jews. It would have been more moralistic for the Polish people to help the Jews at no cost. It is terrifying to think about what it would have been like to live as a Jew in Nazi controlled Europe during WWII. While reading Maus I kept hoping that Anja’s journals would turn up at any time. I still do not understand why Vladek destroyed them. Was it out of spite so that Anja would be truly dead? Was it revenge toward Anja for killing herself? Or could he have destroyed the journals in order to destroy the traces of the Holocaust? I cannot help but think that there were things in Anja’s journals that Vladek did not wish for anyone to know. I suppose that the real point is that nobody will ever know except Vladek.