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Maus II art Spiegelman Reading Questions

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Maus II

Art Spiegelman

Reading Questions:

Maus II: And Here My Troubles Began
Chapter One: Mauschwitz


presumptuous – excessively forward; “having a lot of nerve”

reproach – expression of disapproval

schnell – German for “quick”

kapo – supervisor

Yids –German derogatory term meaning “Jews”

1. What is “Zyklon B”?

Zyklon B is the name of the gas used in the death chambers at Auschwitz. Previously, it

had been used as a pesticide/insecticide
2. On page 16, Artie confesses to a desire that many would find shocking: he tells Francoise that he wishes he had been at Auschwitz with his parents. What does this wish reveal about the unique situation of children whose parents survived Auschwitz?

Artie’s wish reveals that to be a child of a Holocaust survivor is, to him, to live under the shadow of the Holocaust. Auschwitz was such an extreme, critical part of his parents’ lives that he feels almost out of touch with them or alienate them for not having been there. This feeling is so overwhelming and uncomfortable that Artie aches to have been there, too
3. What is the first thing that happens to Vladek and Anja at Auschwitz?

Vladek and Anja (and all men and women) are immediately separated. Then, clothing

and valuables are taken from the prisoners
4. What is the source of the smell that Vladek describes as “sweetish…so like rubber

burning. And fat.”?

We can assume that the smell is given off by burning bodies
5. What happens to the Poles who betrayed Vladek after offering to smuggle him into


The Poles, too, end up in Auschwitz, as the Germans no longer have any use for them

6. How does a Polish priest soothe Vladek when he finds Vladek shivering and crying?

The priest puts a positive spin on the serial number of Vladek’s tattoo, pointing out that

its numbers add up to eighteen, which is “‘Chai,’ the Hebrew number of life.” (Pg. 28)
Chapter Two: Auschwitz (Time Flies)

absolution – the act of having one’s sins cleansed away

cathartic – emotionally purging

notary – one legally empowered to certify documents

munitions – weapons and ammunition

hermetic – air-tight

appel _ German for “an assembly”
1.What were the chief differences between Birkenau and Auschwitz?

Birkenau held about five times the number of prisoners that Auschwitz did, and it was solely a camp for those who had been selected to die. Auschwitz included among its prisoners those who had not yet been singled out for death
2. What is known as “black work” at Auschwitz?

Repetitive hard labor performed outdoors is called “black work.”
3. How is it that Vladek comes to see the inside of a gas chamber and survive to tell of it?

Vladek sees the inside of a gas chamber when he and other tinsmiths are asked to pull apart its machinery.
4. Examine Spiegelman’s drawing of the inside of a gas chamber on page 70. How did the Germans convincingly make the chamber appear like a shower room?

The Germans placed signs around the “shower” room reminding “bathers” to remember

their hook numbers and tie their shoes together
5. How were the gas chambers efficiently cleared of corpses after each gassing?

Workers used hooks to tear the bodies apart quickly and efficiently. The bodies were

then piled into elevators that rose up to ovens.
6.One commonly asked question about the Holocaust is, “Why didn’t the Jews at least try to resist?” Artie asks it, in those words, on page 73. How does Vladek explain it?

Vladek explains that resisting was not as easy as those who were not there might think. Most Jews were starving, exhausted, and delirious. Even if one was able to kill one German, one hundred Jews would be gunned down in retaliation. In many instances, resistance must have seemed futile.
Chapter Three: …And Here My Troubles Began…

Shvartser – Yiddish derogatory slang for “African-American

1.How are many of the Jews Vladek was with in Auschwitz “exterminated” without the use of gas or fire? What irony does he use on page 87?

Many of the Jews are killed simply by dying of thirst or hunger while locked in a

motionless cattle car. Some faint and are trampled to death. Vladek says that once many had died and were removed from the cattle cars, “we were very happy we had now room where to stand.” This can be compared to Mandelbaum’s utter joy at getting a belt and shoes
Chapter Four: Saved

cache –hiding place for storing provisions

valises – small pieces of luggage
1.How is Vladek’s life imperiled even after the war is declared over?

Although the war has been declared over, some Germans still patrol the countryside with guns. Twice, Vladek and others are rounded up by German soldiers they happen to pass on the road.
2. Comment on the way the American soldiers are portrayed in this chapter. Are they kind to the camp survivors?

The American soldiers are somewhat kind to the camp survivors, but it is a kindness with clear limi been living in before they found it) only if he performs chores such as keeping the house clean and shining their shoes
Chapter Five: The Second Honeymoon

quotas – numbers of people designated, in this case, as upper limits

listless – lacking energy or spirit
1.After the war is over, who begins killing Jews in Sosnowiec?

Polish civilians who have taken over Jewish residences and shops begin killing the Jews that return to reclaim their places
2. What do you think of the overall idea of dealing with the Holocaust in this form?

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