Postmemory is the transmission of memory from one generation to another. Marianne Hirsch defines postmemory as, “the relationship of the second generation to powerful, often traumatic, experiences that preceded their births but were nevertheless transmitted to them so deeply as to constitute memories in their own right.”  There are two different types of transmission of postmemory; familial postmemory and affiliative postmemory. Familial postmemory is the direct transmission of memory from parent to child, while affiliative postmemory is the horizontal transmission of memory from the literal second generation to others of their generation who seek a connection. 
Maus exemplifies the familial relationship between Art Spiegelman and his father, an Auschwitz survivor. Recall that familial postmemory is the sharing of memories across generations, specifically from the sharing of memories between first generation survivors to their children. The book encompasses two different narratives; that of the father, and his son’s reactions to his experience with the Holocaust. The story contains a series of conversations between the father and son which illustrates how familial postmemory passes through the father’s memory to his son’s postmemory. The relationship between father and son is strained; no doubt a consequence of the father’s past suffering, and due to the suicide of the author’s mother, Anja. The son’s interest in his father lies solely in learning about his experiences before and after the Holocaust. The strained relationship between the two vanishes while the father tells of his life during World War II, but returns when the father wants to discuss anything other than his memory of the Holocaust.
In one conversation, Art Spiegelman asked his father to search for a series of notebooks in which his mother, Anja, had written. These notebooks contained all of her experiences during the Holocaust; when she was in hiding, and afterwards when she was prisoner in Auschwitz. Spiegelman was desperate to find these notebooks, because his mother’s experiences would give another point of view to his book. When he finds out his father has destroyed the notebooks, Spiegelman immediately ends the conversation, and leaves muttering, “…Murderer.” 
This is a perfect example of the strained relationship between Art Spiegelman and his father. Spiegelman is only interested in hearing about his father’s past, not any everyday ordinary woes. Also, Spiegelman only visits his father to add more notes for the story he is writing on his father’s memory of the Holocaust. He does not stay to get to know his father, or for idle chatter, and when he realizes his father has destroyed what Spiegelman sees as a link to his dead mother, he refuses to continue the conversation with his father. This strained relationship between father and son is one aspect of postmemory. Art Spiegelman’s childhood and life have been affected by events he has not, and cannot, experience.
The uniqueness of Maus lies in the fact that it is not just one story being told, but two. It is the father’s story, told in the way Art Spiegelman has heard and interpreted what his father is saying. It is a story of what happened during the Holocaust with the father, and also a story of the present, of what is going through Art Spiegelman’s mind while he listens to his father. James E. Young states, “As a process, it makes visible the space between what gets told and what gets heard, what gets heard and what gets seen.”  This quote sums up the difference between the father’s firsthand experience with the Holocaust, and his son’s experience as a second generation survivor. Art Spiegelman’s postmemory is shaped by how he hears his father’s story, and with how he interprets the event.
 Marianne Hirsch, “The Generation of Postmemory,” 114.
 Art Spiegelman, Maus (New York: Pantheon Books, 1973), 158-159.
 James E. Young, “The Holocaust as Vicarious Past: Art Spiegelman’s ‘Maus’ and the Afterimages of History,” Critical Inquiry, v. 24, #3, Spring 1998, 676.
 Image By: Art Spiegelman