What was life like for Vladek Spiegelman and other Jews during the Nazi
occupation of Poland? Once he was sent there, how did he manage to survive in
Auschwitz? Finally, how did Vladek's experiences during the holocaust seem to
affect his relationship with his son, the author and artist of
? Due 11/12
The Timeline section focuses on the history of the Holocaust, chronicling the years from 1918 to
the present. Hitler's rise to power was the initiation of a period that wrought great fear and
destruction. Millions were forced to live in ghettos, only to be deported later to the concentration
camps. The tragic details remained obscure until the liberation of the death camps and the further
revelations during the Nuremberg War Trials. The subsections below offer a simplified outline
for thinking about how the Holocaust unfolded. However, it should be kept in mind that many of
the categories overlap.
Rise of the Nazi Party (1918-1933).
During the fourteen years following the end
of World War I, the Nazi party grew from a small political group to the most
powerful party in Germany.
Once Hitler became Chancellor and later
Reichsführer, the Nazi party quickly changed Germany's political, social, and
The Ghettos (1939-1941).
Confining Jews to ghettos was another critical step
in Hitler's Final Solution.
The Camps (1941-1942).
The concentration camps were Hitler's final step in the
annihilation of the Jews.
People resisted by any means possible, from stealing
a slice of bread to sabotaging Nazi installations.
Rescue and Liberation (1944-1945).
Some survived through the heroics of
neighbors; others were liberated by the Allies.
One night, Vladek dreams of his grandfather, who tells him that he will be released from
the camp on the day of Parshas Truma, a special event in the Jewish calendar. It is also
a week of particular significance to Vladek: it was during this week that he was married
to Anja, and it was also the week in which Art was born. Three months later it is Parshas
Truma, and the prisoners are lined up in the main courtyard. He is made to sign a
release form, and he is free to go. Vladek's dream about Parshas Truma has come true.
He boards a train, which takes him through occupied Poland towards Sosnowiec, but
the train travels past Sosnowiec (now officially part of Germany) and into the German-
controlled government of the Reich Protectorate to the east (formerly central Poland).
He is finally let off in Lublin, in the heart of the Reich Protectorate.
A few days later, he boards a train for Sosnowiec. He does not have the proper traveling
papers, but by pretending to be Polish, he enlists the help of a Polish train conductor,
who hides him from the German soldiers. He arrives first at his parents' house. His
mother looks ill; she will die from cancer within a few months, thereby missing the worst
of the Holocaust. His father, a very religious man, has been forced by the Nazis to