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Haskel Spiegelman Character Analysis

Vladek’s cousin, the brother of Miloch and Pesach. Haskel is the chief of the Jewish Police in Srodula. He helps Vladek, Anja, and Lolek escape the detention center in Srodula, but refuses to help Mr. and Mrs. Zylberberg. Haskel is unctuous and self-serving, always trying to ingratiate himself with the Nazis — Vladek calls him a crook.

Haskel Spiegelman Quotes in Maus

The Maus quotes below are all either spoken by Haskel Spiegelman or refer to Haskel Spiegelman . For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
The Holocaust and the Responsibility of its Survivors Theme Icon
). Note: all page and citation info for the quotes below refers to the Pantheon edition of Maus published in 1993.
Part 1, Chapter 5 Quotes

Artie: Wouldn’t they have helped you even if you couldn’t pay? I mean, you were from the same family.

Vladek: Hah! You don’t understand … At that time, it wasn’t anymore families. It was everybody to take care for himself!

Related Characters: Arthur (Artie) Spiegelman (speaker), Vladek Spiegelman (speaker), Jakov Spiegelman , Haskel Spiegelman
Page Number: I.114
Explanation and Analysis:

One of the greatest tragedies of the Holocaust was that it forced Jews to turn against other Jews. Just as the Nazis presumably wanted, Jews were forced to betray each other, fight with each other, and collaborate with the Nazis to murder each other--all because they wanted to survive. Here, Artie learns that Vladek's own blood relatives refused to help him without some money: Vladek had to pay his cousin Jakov to smuggle him out of the ghetto. Family loyalty often disappeared at the time: people looked out for themselves (or perhaps their children), but no one else.

It's all too easy for us to judge Vladek's relatives for refusing to help Vladek out of the goodness of their hearts. But Jakov is a human being: as much as he values family, he also values his own life. Jews had to sacrifice their ideals and loyalties to protect themselves--their sacrifice wasn't barbaric, but deeply human.


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Haskel took from me Father-in-Law’s jewels. But, finally, he didn’t help them. On Wednesday the vans came. Anja and I saw her father at the window. He was tearing his hair and crying. He was a millionaire, but even this didn’t save him his life.

Related Characters: Vladek Spiegelman (speaker), Anja (Anna) Spiegelman , Mr. Zylberberg, Haskel Spiegelman
Page Number: I.115
Explanation and Analysis:

In the ghettos, Vladek tries to use his family connections--backed up with some bribery--to get himself to safety, along with his family. In the end, his connection, his cousin Haskel Spiegelman, can't sneak Vladek's father-in-law, Mr. Zylberberg, out of the ghetto--the old man is simply too old and feeble to be moved safely. Mr. Zylberberg is so desperate to leave and survive that he gives away all his money and jewels as bribes--he's a rich man, with a lot of money to throw around. But in the end, no amount of money can save him, and he's taken away to the death camps like all the rest.

The passage underscores the terrifying randomness of the Holocaust--there was absolutely no way to predict who would live and who would die. Even a rich, powerful man like Mr. Zylberberg wasn't likely to live--money did nothing to help him survive. The passage also reinforces the total breakdown of society during the Holocaust: money (the cornerstone of any society, let's be honest) no longer worked.

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Haskel Spiegelman Character Timeline in Maus

The timeline below shows where the character Haskel Spiegelman appears in Maus. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Part 1, Chapter 5
The Holocaust and the Responsibility of its Survivors Theme Icon
Family, Identity, and Jewishness Theme Icon
Death, Chance, and Human Interdependence Theme Icon
Vladek has two cousins working for the Germans: Jakov, who does manual labor, and Haskel, who is the chief of the Jewish police in Srodula. While awaiting transport to Auschwitz,... (full context)
The Holocaust and the Responsibility of its Survivors Theme Icon
Family, Identity, and Jewishness Theme Icon
Grief, Memory, and Love Theme Icon
Death, Chance, and Human Interdependence Theme Icon
Jakov brings Haskel to the detention center. Vladek bribes Haskel with a diamond ring. Haskel says he can... (full context)
The Holocaust and the Responsibility of its Survivors Theme Icon
...Artie’s mild disgust, for use in household chores. He goes on with his story: after Haskel smuggles them out of the detention center, he takes them to a shoe shop where... (full context)