Maus presents World War II largely from the perspective of Jewish survivors who were imprisoned in the concentration camps at Auschwitz-Birkenau and Dachau. From survivor testimony, Maus recreates concentration camp life – from the brutal labor conditions to the infamous gas chambers, where it is estimated that almost a million prisoners died in Auschwitz alone. Maus also tracks the psychological effect of camp life on the individuals involved. Rather than presenting either the guards as uniformly evil or the prisoners as uniformly good, we get a full range of human behavior – cowardice and sadism, certainly, but also heroism and moral strength.
Spiegelman’s Maus represents in graphic detail the horrors of the concentration camps.
In Spiegelman’s Maus, we see how Nazi policies systematically brutalized Jewish prisoners, but we also see how some Jewish prisoners were able to assert their humanity despite these dehumanizing circumstances.