2. What is their journey back to Germany like? What is life like on the trains? How does Vladek survive?

maus II chapter 3

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Vladek and the others are forced onto trains and packed shoulder-to-shoulder, perhaps two hundred to every car. Vladek still has a thin blanket with him and is able to attach it to some high hooks to create a makeshift hammock. He sits above the shoulders of his fellow Jews for the duration of the ride.

The train travels for some time, and then stops for many days. There is no food or water. Vladek is able to reach through a window and survives on snow from the top of the car. One man in the car with Vladek has some sugar, but when he eats it, it burns his throat. He pleads to Vladek for some snow from the roof, but Vladek will only give him some in exchange for some sugar. Only about twenty-five people make it out of the train alive. The doors are eventually opened, and the prisoners are made to throw out the dead and clean the cars. There are many other trains whose doors were never opened, and are filled with the dead. Soon, they are herded back into the train. Each day, the Nazis open the doors to remove more bodies, and the car becomes more spacious. The train again begins to move, and again they are left for days with no food or water. Then, improbably, the doors open and they are greeted by the Red Cross. Each man receives a cup of coffee and a piece of bread before being herded back onto the train, which they now know is headed for Dachau.