Russia Pulls Holocaust Comic Book Maus Off Shelves Due to Swastika on Cover

Art Spiegelman's seminal graphic novel may be widely acknowledged as a masterpiece of humanist literature - but the swastika on its cover is too much for some.

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Russian bookstores were pulling a Pulitzer-winning graphic novel about the Holocaust off their shelves Monday, reportedly because they feared getting in trouble with the government for selling a book with a swastika on the cover, AFP reported.

The cover of Art Spiegelman's "Maus," which won a Pulitzer Prize in 1992 and was released in Russian in 2013, features a black swastika with a face in the middle that resembles Hitler – if Hitler were a cat.

"It was selling very well and nobody had ever sent us any official complaints," Varvara Gornostayeva, the chief editor at Corpus, the book's Moscow-based publisher, told the French news agency.

But now, she said, major bookstore chains "have removed the book" from their shelves and websites.

Bookstore staff told a Moscow radio reporter they were removing the book because they feared government raids due to the swastika cover, AFP said. The raids are expected ahead of May 9, when Russia marks 70 years since the Soviet victory over the Nazis.

Russia passed a law in December law that bans "Nazi propaganda," and Russian authorities have moved to censor Nazi insignia, even raiding toy stores and antique shops which carry paraphernalia from the World War II era, the news agency said.

It doesn't seem to matter that "Maus," which tells the story of a Jewish Holocaust survivor and his son, can hardly be construed as pro-Nazi.

"There is no Nazi propaganda in it – this is a book that should be on the shelves on Victory Day," Gornostayeva told AFP. "It's one of greatest anti-fascist books, with a deep and piercing message."