Museum of Jewish Heritage Curriculum Guide: “Maus” by Art Spiegelman
If you are teaching Maus, we recommend using the following lessons from the Museum’s Holocaust Curriculum:
Lesson One – Introduction to Jewish Life During the Holocaust
Use this lesson to give students a background on life before, during, and after the Holocaust.
Lesson Four – Jewish Life in the Ghettos
Use this lesson to explore the experiences of Jewish life in the ghettos through diary entries. This also provides an opportunity for students to discuss the differences between diary and memoir and testimony.
Lesson Five – Jewish Life in Concentration Camps
Use this lesson to enhance students’ understanding of life in the concentration camps through survivor testimony and artifacts.
Lesson Six – Experiences of Jewish Children and Teens
Use this lesson to teach about the varied experiences and options available to Jewish children and teens living under the Nazis during the Holocaust. The metal comb from this lesson was made by a teenager in Auschwitz.
Additional Artifacts for Lesson Six
To further examine the experience of Jews before, during, and after the Holocaust in connection with Maus, use the same methodology from lesson six for these artifacts:
- Poster: “Der Rattenfaenger (The Ratcatcher)”
In this German illustration from 1899, based on the Pied Piper of Hamelin, the rats are portrayed as stereotypical Jews, who represent a supposedly negative influence on German life. In the story of the Pied Piper, the town of Hamelin had a terrible rat problem. A man came along who told them he could bewitch the rats and lure them away with his magic pipe. The townspeople were desperate and promised to pay the piper if he would get rid of the rats. The piper got rid of the rats but then the town refused to pay. The piper retaliated by turning his magic on the town’s children, leading them away as he had the rats.
- Drawing: “Roll-call: standing in the rain for hours” by Alfred Kantor
This postcard size drawing by Alfred Kantor shows people standing in a line in front of barracks in the rain. Their heads are covered with scarves colored in red pencil. There is some green pencil highlighting on buildings, and one person, probably an SS officer, is also seen. According to a letter from the artist written in 1989, these drawings were done in Birkenau in 1944.
- Drawing: “Birkenau, peklo na zemi! (Birkenau, Hell on earth)” by Alfred Kantor
This postcard size drawing by Alfred Kantor shows a crowd standing in a yard with barracks in the background and thick black smoke coming out of chimneys in the far background. The title is printed on the back in Czech, “Birkenau, peklo na zemi! (Birkenau, Hell on earth).”
Lesson Nine – Liberation and Aftermath
Use this lesson to further explore the experience of Jews immediately after the Holocaust.