At a moment in time when the last of the Holocaust survivors will soon no longer be able to give their testimony directly, the writings of second-generation Holocaust survivors is instrumental to preserving their memory. Through his seminal and most controversial work Maus, Art Spiegelman comes to terms with his inability to fully know and accurately memorialize the Holocaust. As a second-generation survivor, Spiegelman engages with the problematics of Holocaust representation by weaving the difficulty of telling and knowing the Holocaust throughout his work. Maus sheds light on the way Spiegelman, and other second-generation survivors, cope with the present absence of the Holocaust and respond to their parents' trauma as well as their own inherited trauma. Spiegelman confronts the gravity of understanding the Holocaust and its aftermath through the eyes of the second-generation by engaging with themes of trauma, generational transmission, and post-memory throughout each narrative layer of the text. This essay examines the three narrative levels of Maus — Vladek’s story of his survival, Art’s narration of Vladek’s testimony, and Art’s meta-commentary on the creation of the work — to explore the ways Spiegelman integrates these themes throughout the text to memorize the Holocaust as well as his experience as a second-generation survivor.
Paparousis, Lauren, "Poetry After Mauschwitz: Holocaust Memory in Art Spiegelman’s Maus" (2017). 2017 Undergraduate Awards. 4.