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HEFNU Statement on the Removal of "Maus" from the Curriculum in McMinn County, Tennessee

March 3, 2022

The Holocaust Educational Foundation of Northwestern University, its Director, Advisory Board, and Academic Council object to the decision by the McMinn County, TN school board to remove Art Spiegelman’s Pulitzer Prize-winning graphic novel Maus from its curriculum.

Maus is an illustrated memoir about its author’s father’s experiences as a Jewish victim of Nazi violence and persecution. It includes the portrayal of the time he spent in the Auschwitz death camp. The book’s author also describes what it was like to grow up as a child of Holocaust survivors, and his family’s sadness over the death of his brother – a brother the author was never able to meet due to Nazi atrocities. This moving and artistic work has been the acclaimed recipient of many awards and has been celebrated as a classic of Holocaust writing since its publication over 30 years ago. Maus is a serious work about a tragic event.

Having students read memoirs and nonfiction works about the Holocaust is one of the best tools we have for educating students about the scope of the tragedy and for promoting intelligent discussions about what we can learn from history, including the importance of the free exchange of ideas. While earnest people can have serious discussions about which works may be age appropriate for students, banning a celebrated and powerful memoir should never be an option.