Maus Chapter 2: Communists and Nazis, who do we fear?
Lesson 5 of 14
Objective: SWBAT analyze a cultural experience by examining the rise of the Nazis in Maus.
Today's class is designed for whole group discussion. To establish a clear foundation, the class begins with students writing a brief summary of chapter one (RL.9-10.2). Chapter one establishes why Art Spiegelman writes the book and what life is like for Vladek and Anja Spiegelman in Poland before the WWII.
After students write their summaries, I explain to them that the second chapter addresses the two perceived threats to Poland: the spread of Communism from the east and the spread of the Nazis in the west. I then explain to my students that this lesson focuses on the students analyzing Vladek and Anja's experiences with these two threats. Vladek and Anja are business owning Jews in pre-WWII Poland. The potential rise of communism, at first, appears to be a greater threat than the Nazis. Over the course of the chapter that perspective changes. Student have to identify how and why that shift occurs from the point of view of a upper middle class Jewish factory owner and his family (RL.9-10.6).
Next, we begin our analysis of the second chapter. The beginning of the second chapter reveals that Anja is involved with the Polish Communists. She is afraid that she will be arrested. So, I begin by asking: "What's wrong with being a communist?" Answers will always vary, however, most students know more about Communist China than about the former Soviet Union or the Cold War. So, I show a brief youtube video on the Russian Revolution and Communism. I tell the students to pay close attention to:
•Role of the worker?
After we watch the video and discuss how Communism gives more power to the worker and takes away the property of the factory owners, I pose the question, "Why did Anja and Miss Stephanska have to hide their communist connections?" The students should respond by explaining that the early 1930s the spread of Communism is a pressing fear among business owners. They do not want to loose their factories and social status to a government that favors the workers.
As a class, we then move to discussing the next section of the chapter which transitions from the threat of Communism to the rise of the Nazis. Vladek and Anja's first encounter with Nazis are rumors they hear on a train ride to Czechoslovakia and end with the passengers witnessing the beginning of the Nazi invasion of Poland. Slides five through eight on the PowerPoint for Chapter 2 focus on taking the students on the journey with Vladek and Anja.
First the students answer the following questions in writing:
1) Why do Valdek and Anja go to Czechoslovakia?
To wrap up the discussion the students need to accomplish two activities.
First they complete a five-minute quick write responding to the question: What are the challenges that face a Jews that own businesses in 1930s Poland?
The second activity is the on-going timeline of events in the two narratives in Maus. I ask for volunteers to add the information to the timelines on the board. This timeline is an activity that the students will work on as they move through the book in order to trace the development of characters over the course of a text (RL.9-10.3)