In Maus by Art Spielgelman, and Preserving Memory by Edward T. Linenthal, there is no shying away from the psychological implications of the Holocaust on its survivors. In Maus, the main character’s behavior towards certain objects is difficult for his son to deal with, even prompting the son to call his father a murderer in a particularly tense moment. In Preserving Memory, the attachment of survivors to their objects and their involvement in how they are used or not used in the Holocaust Museum’s exhibits is evident. In both Maus and Preserving Memory, material objects are treated in very specific ways by Holocaust survivors, which may be a strong indication of psychological tendencies formed as a result of tragedy.
In Maus, the reader is exposed to the character Vladek both during the Holocaust and during the mid to late 1970s when the author, Vladek’s son Art, began interviewing him. While Art aims to learn as much about his father’s Holocaust experience as possible, and even re-kindles their strained relationship to do so, the father-son dynamic becomes just as important to the Vladek’s story as his memories. Very often, Vladek’s tendencies simply annoy Art, and sometimes provoke outright anger.
Vladek’s insistence on keeping seemingly useless items is typical of what one might think
of as survivalist mentality. Someone who lost everything might never see any object as something to take for granted, and place more value on it than someone who did not experience such a loss. His attachment to these things prompts his wife, Mala, to exclaim that he cares more about things than he does about people . While extremely frustrating to those around him, this behavior of Vladek’s may speak to his fear of losing items that may have value to him one day, as well as his reluctance focus on relationships and people, which are much harder deal with when lost.
Vladek asserts control by his behavior towards objects as well. He is the only one who he trusts to count his pills  and he won’t give Art the key for his safe deposit box because he expects Art to lost it . He refuses to give Mala the money that she wants every week, despite being able to afford it, and tries to placate her by recycling his deceased wife’s clothing , and he picks up bits of wire off of the sidewalk rather than buying it new .
Contrarily, Vladek throws away Art’s coat without permission because he thought it looked old . When Art finds out that Vladek has destroyed his wife’s biographical diaries, he goes so far as to call his father a murderer . Vladek himself explains that he destroyed the books because he was having a hard time coping with his wife’s suicide (which was most likely associated with the mental trauma she experiences because of the Holocaust). These behaviors speak of a man who is desperately trying to keep his life within the boundaries that he has set, as well as maintain the illusion that he is not struggling by keeping up appearances.
In Preserving Memory, Yaffa Eliach, a survivor from Ejszyszki, Lithuania, worked with the Holocaust Museum and had a lot of say in how her extensive photograph collection, documenting life in Ejszyski before the war, would be used . Museums do not generally accept donations which come with extensive restraints. However Eliach took on legal advisement and made sure that she was there every step of the way. She ensured that photographs were distributed in ways that made sense to her. She demanded that group portraits and images of buildings be left in the exhibit, and that photographs of people who had quarreled were not placed next to each other. Eliach’s attachment to these objects shows a deep-rooted connection to her life before the Holocaust, and a fierce determination to preserve her memories in exactly the right way.
Other potential donors to the exhibit were even less willing to leave their objects up to free interpretation. “One family gave me magnificent photos, but would not allow them to be displayed outside Israel.”  Perhaps this family felt that the physical representation of their memories would only be truly honored and respected in a place of Jewish culture and sanctuary.
The attitudes exhibited towards material objects by Holocaust survivors is very telling of the psychological implications of going through tragedy. Survivors endured years of being stolen from, culminating in their complete and forced separation from any worldly goods. The people who were lost to them would forever affect the way they formed relationships and the value they placed on objects, both mundane and sentimental.
 Art Spiegelman, Maus: A Survivor’s Tale, (New York, NY: Raw Books and Graphics, 1986), 93.
 Art Spiegelman, Maus: A Survivor’s Tale, (New York, NY: Raw Books and Graphics, 1986), 30.
 Art Spiegelman, Maus: A Survivor’s Tale, (New York, NY: Raw Books and Graphics, 1986), 126.
 Art Spiegelman, Maus: A Survivor’s Tale, (New York, NY: Raw Books and Graphics, 1986), 131.
 Art Spiegelman, Maus: A Survivor’s Tale, (New York, NY: Raw Books and Graphics, 1986), 116.
 Art Spiegelman, Maus: A Survivor’s Tale, (New York, NY: Raw Books and Graphics, 1986), 67-69.
 Art Spiegelman, Maus: A Survivor’s Tale, (New York, NY: Raw Books and Graphics, 1986) 158-159.
 Edward T. Linenthal, Preserving Memory (Penguin Books, 1997), 182.
 Edward T. Linenthal, Preserving Memory (Penguin Books, 1997), 185.