During Hitler`s region, he and the Nazi region changed many lives of innocent people. Milkweed, a historical fiction by Jerry Spinelli, shows how the Holocaust impacted a multitude of people. Orphaned at an early age Misha, the protagonist, adopts the identity of an orphan gypsy a persona created by his friend Uri. Misha adapts that identity would eventually become Misha Milgrom- the Jew. Misha assumes the role as the Milgrom family “breadwinner”. After thousands of Jews including the Milgroms, are relocated to the ghetto of Warsaw, Misha learns to identify himself with the Jewish struggle, and to be a part of a family.
Because of Hitler`s oppression region, Jews like Misha, the street gang of orphans, and the Milgrom family learn to rely on relationships to help boost their chances of survival if not survival of life then survival of humanity and hope. Hitler`s is able to oppress the Jewish population by taking away their individual power, humility, and hope. One of the ways he takes away power is by using propaganda is to convince the non-Jews that Jews are to blame the wrongs in society. Misha sees this happen when he goes to the carousel and finds a horse missing.
It has been from the place on the ride. The crowd surrounding the carousel immediately place blame for the missing horse. “‘Find the dirty Jew! ’ the voices called over and over, and I think one I heard was mine. ” (pg. 66). Spinelli is showing how readly people will follow the crowd and join in the demeaning of a person to save their own lives. Even Misha finds himself buying into the propaganda. He has jumped on the bandwagon. After Misha realizes he too is joining in, he sees that someone has been found to blame. “They found a Jew.
Or should I say they found a Jew. Jews are interchangeable. One was as good as another. ” (pg. 66). It is clear that Jews have lost their individuality and become the scapegoat. They are now the “filthy son of Abraham” a worthless group of useless people, thriving people. People who are to be blamed for all the ills of society. Another example, of oppression is when Misha, Uri, and the boys are being rounded up by the jackboots to go to the ghetto. The boys are surprised when shouting voices as they scramble to escape. In an effort to get away, the boys all go in different directions. One of the boys jumped from the loft. He was shot in midair and flopped to the ground like a ragdoll. ” (pg. 79). the boys are oppressed; under complete control of the Nazis. They fear being shot too. The Nazis believe that shooting the boy that try to escape is a small price to pay to get all the others under control. As people lose their powers, they need to help one another as it means of survival. Misha is dependent on Uri for basic survival during Hitler`s take over at Poland. Misha is naive, immature, young homeless boy. He is hopeless without the guidance of Uri.
Uri has kept Mishap with food, shelter, companionship, and clothing. He treats him like a younger brother. Uri teaches him about the true purpose of the jackboots and news rules in society. “For some reason, I felt freer to be stupid and silly when he was there than when he was not. ” (pg. 80). Mishap is more comfortable with Uri than without him and does not feel safe to be himself without Uri around. He trusts Uri to protect him when he crosses the line. He knows that if he is to act foolish walking the streets alone he would undoubtedly be killed.
To help Misha survive the atrocity of the war, Uri has to take drastic measures. By the end of the war, Misha has learned from Uri how to become a protector and provider. At this point of the novel, the reader has begun to see little of Uri. When he does show Uri he is needed and has to do what no friend should have to do to help Misha avoid the train. “The Jackboot flung me against a wall. I saw his hand go to his holster. I saw the gun come out and point between my eyes. Die piglet! The voice. I looked up. The red hair. The face. Uri! I cried, and the gun went off. (pg. 168). Uri may have shot off Misha`s ear off, but he gave him an opportunity to run toward freedom and away from the ovens. Misha is helping the Milgroms in a desperate time of need. During the Holocaust many families, including the Milgroms, learn to survive the hardships by relying on relationships to help boost their chances of survival. One way the Milgroms use relationships to survive is by using it to stay positive. There is so much death and destruction in the ghetto that people need hope if they wish to keep going and survive. Misha leans this when Mr.
Milgrom tells him and Janina that Hanukkah is a holiday to celebrate the Jewish heritage. “And so Hanukkah is eight days when we remember that time, and we remember to be happy and proud to be Jews and that we will always survive. This is our time. We celebrate ourselves. We must be happy now. We must never forget how to be happy. Never forget. ” (pg. 157). Spinelli is showing to be proud of yourself. It doesn`t matter what race or religion you are. Just be happy and never forget to be happy. If you have a good attitude, you can make other people around you happy.
If you feel happy about yourself nothing will bring you down. Being positive about yourself will help people survive in the hardest of times. After Misha learns about deportations from a friend, Uri, Misha warns the Milgrom family in order for them to survive. Mr. Milgrom realizes that he will need to let go of Janina in order for her to survive. “He stared into my eyes. He gripped my forearm. Take her hand. Keep her with you. Make her go take off your armbands off and run. Run until daylight. Then hide. Run at night.
He squeezed my arm so hard I would have thought he was trying to hurt me if I hadn’t known better. Do not bring back food tonight. Do not return. Run. Run. ” (pg. 180). It is clear that the Holocaust is tearing up families and people, but this shows the Milgrom`s family has trust in everyone in the family. This shows that Mr. Milgrom trusts Misha to take Janina away from Warsaw. Mr. Milgrom wants Janina to be safe, to be happy, and to be free. He doesn’t want Janina to die like her mother. Misha understands this is hard for Mr. Milgrom to let go of Janina, but it needs to be done in order for her to survive.
The oppressive nature of living in a German occupied Poland created conflict for the Jews. In order to survive or at least have some hope of survival, Jews such as the Milgroms, Misha, and the orphans had to form relationship that boosted their chances to live. Misha needed Uri, the Milgroms needed Misha, and the street gang needed each one another. Because life is hard and people are cruel and intolerant, relationships are essential to bring hope and light into the darkness life may throw in your way. Life in the ghetto during the Holocaust is dark as it gets.