The Complete Maus - Art Spiegelman

Art Spiegelman tells his fathers story as a Jew in Poland during the Second World War in comic book format. The Jews are drawn as mice, the Germans as cats, the American's as dogs and the Polish as pigs. This is a truely harrowing story with lots of cross roads and choices made along the way with Spiegelman showing what happened to the familes who chose the alternative along the way.

His mother and father against all the odds managed to survive the war as well as being POWs in Auschwitz seeing many of their friends and family die in the camps and by Germans along the way. They are dehumanised, starved, beaten and betrayed along the way. Sadly his mother later killed herself in 1968 after suffering for depression for many years (since before the war) and writing this brings on a bout of depression also for the author who includes sections from his life whilst writing this comic.

Art and his father have a very strained relationship and he is often conflicted with how to write about him. He wants to remain true to their relationship whilst not living up the to the JEwish sterotypes. This is shown very well in the panels below.

His father is also racist and anti-communist which Art struggles with after knowing what he lived through at Hitler's persecution. He can't understand how someone who has been on the recieving end of such abuse and violence can perpetuate the same against another. The main thing is though that he cannot image the horrors his mother and father lived through. It is one thing to have them described, but it can never be the same.

Defintely a tale that sticks in the readers mind. Very personal and filled with tragedy and sadness, it is difficult to remember at times that this is a story of courage and survival. That anyone Jewish in Poland and Germany managed to survivie the war is a miracle and I hope one that is never forgotten. This is essential reading.