Human Rights Depicted in Maus

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Most of the time, people's rights are infringed upon due to their culture, skin color, beliefs, and more. But this should not be an issue as common as it is, especially in present times. According to the United Nations, human rights are “rights inherent to all human beings, regardless of race, sex, nationality, ethnicity, language, religion, or any other status… Everyone is entitled to these rights, without discrimination.” (“Human Rights.” United Nations, United Nations, In Maus, the life of a Polish Jew and his hardships during the Holocaust were depicted. The human rights that the Jews should have gotten were highlighted in the graphic novel as property, speech, individuality, and religion.

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Housing is a very important necessity for humans. It provides some type of shelter and protection from the outside world. At the beginning of the graphic novel, Vladek Spiegelman’s family and other Jews in the town of Sosnowiec are ordered to relocate to a ghetto, pushing all Jews to one area. “All 12 of our household were given now to live in 2.5 small rooms… most people got even less space…” (Art Spiegelman 84) From there, the living conditions decrease while continuously worsening, and Jews starting to perish. Moving to different locations is a normal thing for the Jews, but the space is limited and there are too many people to be cared for. Humans should be able to afford their own type of housing which will sustain and support life inside of it. They should also be able to possess their own personal belongings and items that they own. Not having a home to go to after a long day of work is stressful and the feeling of not being in a safe place is high.

The right to speech is the ability to emote words and verbal actions to the community around you. Not having the right to speak limits the opinions of the people, and causes a dictatorship of the government or group in command. The Jews could not voice their own personal thoughts on topics. They were silent, afraid of the backlash from the Nazis if they spoke up. The cats in the graphic novel represent the Nazis in the war. The Nazis are very demanding of the Jews and are the authoritative figure. They have full control over what the Jews did and say, and often punish them for not doing the correct thing. One quote from the graphic novel says, “... Jews beaten with no reason, whole towns pushing out all Jews- each story worse than the other.” (Spiegelman 35) With the power of influence, the government has, innocent Jews are taken while violence and hatred spreading with nothing to stop it.

Everyone is different in their own unique way. Labeling others as one group and purposefully shaming them for that is wrong. Individuality is one’s individual characteristic. The Jews shouldn’t be grouped as one and be punished as a whole. The Germans assume that Jews of all ages are dirty and thieving, up to no good at all times. In Maus, the Germans have the Jews wear the Star of David to separate themselves from the non-Jews. They also have to have papers to identify them, and if they do not have them, they will get taken away. The Nazis treat all Jews horribly, thinking that they are below everyone in society. A line in the graphic novel says, “Fellow Jews: On Wednesday, August 12th, every one of you, young and old, male and female, healthy and sick, must register at the Dienst Stadium…” (Spiegelman 90). The Jews are all gathered in one area, being judged on whether or not they can survive or not. Their existence in society depends on if they are fit higher into their rankings as a Jew, and as only a Jew. This is important as the Germans will start killing off the young and weak because they are not fit enough to work. Not being able to fit the criteria will end up in death as all Jews had the same fate.

Everyone has their own beliefs and what they are interested in. According to Merriam-Webster, freedom of religion is “the right to choose what religion to follow and to worship without interference.” (Merriam-Webster, ). Humans should be able to practice their own religion without anyone else judging and criticizing them about it. Maus is centered around the Holocaust, which was about the Germans persecuting the Jews as they were an inferior race. At the very beginning of the book, there is a quote from Adolf Hitler saying, “The Jews are undoubtedly a race, but they are not human.” (Spiegelman 10) The Germans do not allow the Jews to practice their views and beliefs, nor did they have a mutual understanding of it. They also do not treat Jews like they treat themselves but instead with violence, and in that process, killed about 6 million of them. (

Human rights are key to respecting other human beings around the world. These human rights should be universal, as each person is created equal. These virtues will help protect the weak from the strong, and increase equality amongst all humans. The Holocaust taught many about the suffering that Jews and other groups had to go through. This is an example of when people's rights are infringed upon, and the world would be a better place if we all treated each other civilly.          

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