Maus was first published in December 1980, making it 36 years old now give or take. Happy birthday Maus.

Here are the two pages that stuck with me the most.

It’s January now. The other day my grandmother told me she cried when she first saw pictures of the Holocaust, because she had married a Jewish man. I believe her. With him she gave birth to a daughter, who later gave birth to me.

After she told me that, she cheerfully repeated her favorite antisemitic conspiracy theories to me, the Rothschild conspiracy and so on. She said she wanted to give Donald Trump a chance. He’s really not our President, on account of us all being British. “He’s hired neo-Nazis to share his throne,” I told her. “Literal neo-Nazis.” I tried to get her to at least look into it. I don’t think she will. “You’re very much like me, you know,” she said before she left. “Like me when I was younger.” She volunteers her time for UKIP sometimes. They’re a far-right British political party in which racism, homophobia and antisemitism runs rampant.

Art Spiegelman’s Maus is one of the most famous, most heartbreaking and most horrifying deceptions of the Holocaust that I can think of. The page on the left is the opening scene, in which Spiegelman recollects an old conversation he had with his father Vladek, a concentration camp survivor. “I fell, and my friends skated away without me.” “Friends? Your friends?” Vladek answers. “If you lock them together with no food for a week, then you could see what it is, friends!”

The page on the right is about Anja Spiegelman, Art’s mother, and what happened to her. She was imprisoned in Birkenau, but was sometimes able to intercept packages from Vladek tossed over the wall for her. One day, a Nazi guard caught her receiving a package, didn’t see her face, but chased her into one of the buildings. Anja’s friends hid her, the guard searched, but didn’t find anything. That evening, the guard lined up the women and said to them “The prisoner I chased this afternoon will now step forward… if you know who she is, push her forward or you’ll all suffer!” No-one pushed Anja forward. The guard tortured all the prisoners, made them “to run, to bend, to jump until they couldn’t anymore,” but still no-one pushed her forward. Then you could see what it is, friends! The torture continued for days, but still, still, no-one pushed her forward.

I think about those women a lot, come close to crying sometimes even. They don’t have names or human faces, not in the novel and not in history, and I imagine all of them are dead now. Their story and their heroism is over and done with in two pages. They probably never thought it’d be written down at all. They didn’t push her forward.

I would like to be like those women.