KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — A Knoxville comic book store announced Monday it has raised more than $83,000 after starting an initiative last week to give away free copies of Maus for students who want to learn more about the Holocaust.
The book made headlines nationally for being banned from McMinn County chools after leaders said it contained too much strong language and graphic depictions of the Holocaust. Around 6 million Jewish people died between the 1930s and the early 1940s as the Nazi regime systematically arrested and cruelly killed them.
Nirvana Comics said it would give away copies of the book because it "[believes] it is a must-read for everyone." It said all students need to do is ask for a copy by calling the store or reaching out on social media. However, it said it had a limited supply of books so there could be a waitlist for anyone interested in reading it.
"We are going to be able to buy a copy of Maus for every student who has requested one so far. We got a huge waiting list from people all over the country," said Rich Davis, who works at the store. "We are going to prioritize the Tennessee area. Then we will start shipping out. We are gonna be able to do that and maybe make donations to as many of the public school libraries in Tennessee as we can."
They said they had a large order of Maus expected to arrive soon, so they could give away more copies of the book after their initial supply was loaned out or sold.
"We are in discussions with a much larger organization to expand the program. We hope to have news on that soon," they said.
The book is a graphic novel written in a documentary style, following the story of a man and his family as he watches the Nazi regime rise to power and eventually invade Poland. Later in the book, he is taken to Auschwitz, a concentration camp where more than 1 million Jewish people were worked nearly to death, starved and systematically killed.
The author, Art Spiegelman, drew characters as mice and learned the story through interviews with his father who survived being sent to Auschwitz.
Thursday was also International Holocaust Remembrance Day when communities across the world honored people who died during the Holocaust and learn about how to identify and prevent antisemitism.
Anyone who wants to help with Nirvana Comics' program can also donate. They said they are looking into crowdfunding platforms to better organize donations. On Friday, they launched a campaign on GoFundMe.
Nirvana Comics can be reached at 865-200-5067 or online.