The Ordinary Men of the Holocaust

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The average person’s understanding of the Holocaust is the persecution and mass murder of Jews by the Nazi’s, most are unaware that the people behind the atrocities of the Holocaust came from all over Europe and a wide variety of backgrounds. Art Spiegelman’s Maus: a Survivor’s Tale, Christopher Browning’s Ordinary Men: Reserve Battalion 101 and the Final Solution, and Jan Gross’s Neighbors: The Destruction of the Jewish Community in Jedbwabne, Poland, all provides a different perspective on how ordinary people felt about their experiences in the Holocaust both perpetrators and victims. Art Spiegelman’s Maus: a Survivor’s Tale is particularly unique in that it is a graphic novel, not typically a genre used for writing about the horrors of the Holocaust. Spiegelman tells the story as told to him by his father of his experiences and survival of the Holocaust as a Jewish man, and how it profoundly affected the rest of his life and the lives of those around him. Throughout the novel we see that Spiegelmen has a strained relationship with his father and his Jewish heritage. The characters in the novel are animals, the Jews are mice, the German’s Cat’s and the non-Jewish Poles are pigs. Spiegelmen highlights our over simplification of the roles individuals played in the Holocaust by categorizing them as animals. Spiegelman discusses the amazing lengths local Jews had to go to survive, and how resourceful they had to be. Vladyk, Spiegelman’s father knew how to speak German, and could disguise himself to avoid capture. Among all those who wanted hated the Jews there were also many willing to help. Jan Gross’s Neighbors describes how a community in Poland, Jedwabne, made up of both Christian and Jewish Poles who once had amiable relations could turn, and in one day in July non-Jewish Poles killed 1500 of their Jewish neighbors. Gross provides thorough details and reliable facts to form his conclusions by using both primary and secondary sources. Primary sources in the...
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