The Sunflower: On the Possibilities and Limits of Forgiveness

The Sunflower On the Possibilities and Limits of Forgiveness While imprisoned in a Nazi concentration camp Wiesenthal was taken one day from his work detail to the bedside of a dying SS man Haunted by the crimes in which he d participated the soldier wanted t

While imprisoned in a Nazi concentration camp, Wiesenthal was taken one day from his work detail to the bedside of a dying SS man Haunted by the crimes in which he d participated, the soldier wanted to confess to obtain absolution from a Jew Faced with the choice between compassion justice, silence truth, Wiesenthal said nothing But even years afterWhile imprisoned in a Nazi concentration camp, Wiesenthal was taken one day from his work detail to the bedside of a dying SS man Haunted by the crimes in which he d participated, the soldier wanted to confess to obtain absolution from a Jew Faced with the choice between compassion justice, silence truth, Wiesenthal said nothing But even years after the war had ended, he wondered Had he done the right thing What would you have done in his place In this important book, 53 distinguished men women respond to Wiesenthal s questions They are theologians, political leaders, writers, jurists, psychiatrists, human rights activists, Holocaust survivors victims of attempted genocides in Bosnia, Cambodia, China Tibet Their responses, as varied as their experiences of the world, remind us that Wiesenthal s questions are not limited to events of the past Often surprising, always thought provoking, The Sunflower will challenge you to define your beliefs about justice, compassion responsibility.

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The Sunflower: On the Possibilities and Limits of Forgiveness

  1. Simon Wiesenthal, KBE, was an Austrian Jewish architectural engineer and Holocaust survivor who became famous after World War II for his work as a Nazi hunter who pursued Nazi war criminals in an effort to bring them to justice.Following four and a half years in the German concentration camps such as Janowska, Plaszow, and Mauthausen during World War II, Wiesenthal dedicated most of his life to tracking down and gathering information on fugitive Nazis so that they could be brought to justice for war crimes and crimes against humanity In 1947, he co founded the Jewish Historical Documentation Center in Linz, Austria, in order to gather information for future war crime trials Later he opened Jewish Documentation Center in Vienna Wiesenthal wrote The Sunflower, which describes a life changing event he experienced when he was in the camp.A biography by Guy Walters asserts that many of Wiesenthal s claims regarding his education, wartime experiences and Nazi hunting exploits are false or exaggerated Walters calls Wiesenthal s claims an illusion mounted for a good cause It is difficult to establish a reliable narrative of Wiesenthal s life due to the inconsistencies between his three memoirs which are in turn all contradicted by contemporary records It is partly thanks to Wiesenthal that the Holocaust has been remembered and properly documented.Wiesenthal died in his sleep at age 96 in Vienna on September 20, 2005, and was buried in the city of Herzliya in Israel on 23 September He is survived by his daughter, Paulinka Kriesberg, and three grandchildren The Simon Wiesenthal Center, located in Los Angeles in the United States, is named in his honor.

208 Reply to “The Sunflower: On the Possibilities and Limits of Forgiveness”

  1. Simon Wiesenthal is in a Nazi Concentration Camp in Poland and performing physical labor at a local hospital when a nurse comes up to him and says, Are you a Jew Come with me She leads him to a room, in which a catastrophically injured young man lays The injured man asks Simon to sit and listen to his story The young man is a Nazi He was raised very Catholic and hoped to become a priest before diverting from his plan and becoming a member of the Hitler Youth He then joined the SS as soon as he c [...]

  2. Wiesenthal s true story might just be a thought experiment for an Intro to Ethics course, were it not for his writing, which makes this book something loftier Much less interesting are the short essays that make up the second part of the book In these, an all star team of moral authorities including Desmond Tutu and the Dalai Lama offer brief responses to the central dilemma of the story To what extent are victims of atrocities required or even permitted to forgive their persecutors Many of the [...]

  3. Dio in vacanza Simon Wiesenthal, scampato miracolosamente alla detenzione nei lager, noto come il cacciatore di nazisti.Dopo la liberazione da Mauthausen, cominci a collaborare con gli agenti statunitensi nel raccogliere informazioni sui criminali nazisti sfuggiti alla cattura.Ne Il girasole Wiesenthal rievoca la vita prima della detenzione in una Polonia in cui gradualmente, ma senza alcuna remora, mette le radici uno spietato antisemitismo Tratteggia, poi, quell assurda e disumana condizione a [...]

  4. I gave this book five stars not because of literary style or readability but because of IMPACT, on a very personal level The theme here is FORGIVENESS it s meaning, it s affect on our lives, and its limits or limitlessness.I did not choose this book My 87 year old Aunt Dominica lent it to me and asked me to read it She had recently read it and was hungry to discuss it with someone I look forward to that exchange.This book is divided into two parts The first section a mere 98 pages is the true ac [...]

  5. In this book Simon Wiesenthal takes the first 100 pages to describe an event in his life and the surrealistic dilemma it posed One day while he was in a Nazi forced labor camp in Poland, his group finished some railroad labor and got put on clean up duty in a wartime hospital instead On that day, a nurse chooses him at random, beckons him aside, and confirms the obvious that he is a Jew Then he gets taken to the bedside of a dying SS soldier SS troops being the Nazi elite who ran the Holocaust H [...]

  6. Tutto nella vita ha il suo prezzo, e io lo pago, e posso guardare in faccia tutti Questo libro stato scritto da Simon Wiesenthal, detto il cacciatore di nazisti, un ebreo nato e vissuto in Polonia, laureato in architettura, sopravvissuto ai campi di sterminio Dopo la fine della guerra Wiesenthal ha dedicato la sua vita alla ricerca dei nazisti responsabili dell Olocausto che si erano rifugiati in paesi amici , come l Argentina, il Brasile e il Sud America in generale per far ci ha creato un cent [...]

  7. This book gathers a diverse collection of responses to a request for forgiveness by a dying soldier for atrocities he took part in In part, some of the responses tended to gather around perspectives that different faiths had about forgiveness, including a core question of whether some acts can even be forgiven if the person who was wronged was no longer living and could not be asked for forgiveness The power in the book was to communicate that forgiveness is not something to glibly advise someon [...]

  8. Recommended by Juli Ann I m not sure I ll do this in a sitting I may mete out the essays between other pieces of fiction.WellI ll be honest I didn t read every essay in the back of the book I read the ones written by people I have heard of That was interesting I enjoyed reading Matthew Fox Desmond Tutu Cynthia Ozick s was my favorite response I think my reading of this holocaust account was made intense by my experience at the Museum of Tolerance this past summer Wiesenthal s work is so inspiri [...]

  9. Un libro que te deja pensando sobre la humanidad Hasta cuando existe el perd n Qu barreras se deben de romper para que el perd n sea inaceptable Se puede perdonar a alguien que haya sido parte de las aberraciones y atrocidades de los nazis Qui n tiene el poder de perdonarlos Un tema muy profundo que te deja la pregunta abierta para que t seas el que la conteste Es impensable que un hecho como el holocausto sea pasado por alto perdonar es olvidar y no podemos olvidar.

  10. As given in the book description, this is at once a memoir and a large set of responses to it, most hingeing on the problematics of sin and forgiveness Appropriately, it is often used as a text in ethics classes.Personally, I found it distressing for two reasons The first was because of the memoir itself Descriptions of concentration camp life and of war are distressing enough, but in this loaded instance when the war is WWII, the camp a Nazi one and the victims the Jewish author and a host of o [...]

  11. This is an extraordinary book Simon Wiesenthal is the Nazi hunter who spent his life since the war WWII identifying Nazi war criminals in order for them to be brought to trial For this work he has been honoured by the governments of Italy, the Netherlands, Israel, and the United States He was born in 1908 in Buczaz, a city in the Austro Hungarian Empire, and he studied in Prague and Lvov He had just begun work in an architectural office in Lvov Poland when the Germans invaded From 1941 to 1945 h [...]

  12. The story itself is very powerful and does bring this slew of questions into mind What would you have done Did he do the right thing I found myself thinking of what I had hoped he d done But when it comes to the second half of the book, other people s opinions, I found other opinions to be not compelling or annoying Some I understood and appreciated but most felt like ugh what In fact, I did not finish that section because i didn t really care about what all these people thought Some yes but ot [...]

  13. This is a MUST READ.When I reviewed over the responses of the greatest minds to master the subject of grace, I found that every individual had to relate to it No one was Simon nor no one was that Nazi soldier With every individual s limited viewing in the court that Wiesenthal has created, they had to relate to it to the best of their ability to decipher what Weisenthal should or should not have done No one was omniscient Everyone was tied to his or her limited human experiences and knowledge to [...]

  14. Lines in the sand The best way to describe my understanding of forgiveness as a child was that there were certain things I would forgive, and things across the line that I simply could never forget As an adult I understand the evolving nature of that discussion, but for the most part my childhood did not require this Simon Wiesenthal was not so lucky He endured the ultimate hell on Earth concentration camps His narrative and the question he asks at the end strike to the very core of teaching mak [...]

  15. The Sunflower was quite the interesting read Wiesenthal did not offer readers a leisurely read No, he forced each reader think hard and long about his own experience and what they would do if they were ever in his place, one reason I enjoyed reading it I liked this book because it read like a fictional novel, which is the only type of book I tend to read Besides that minor point, I adored how the novel made my mind work over deep topics and how it provided me a small gateway into the life of a p [...]

  16. The Nuremberg Trials is the general name for two sets of trials of Nazis involved in war crimes committed during WWII The first, and most famous trial, tried the most important and decorated political and military leaders of the Third Reich The second set of trials for lesser war criminals This book deals with a different kind of trial in which you, the reader, are the judge Imagine you are a Jewish prisoner in a concentration camp and a dying Nazi soldier ask for your forgiveness for crimes in [...]

  17. What would you do if your persecutor asked for your forgiveness The writer tells us what he did and the rest of the book are what well known writers and philosophers wrote what their thoughts They way we answer this question reflects who we re are Not sure any of us can ever put ourselves in the position of Simon What this book offers is the opportunity to reflect on what we can do today to make the lives of those currently persecuted better.

  18. This story, like much of the Holocaust canon, carries a distinct weightiness, if only for the scale of human atrocities that were committed and the fact that we can refer to a canon under which we may subsume genocide as simply a category, but whose umbrella is inclusive of so much that is so atrocious as to have no equivalent It is a scale which has yet to be balanced by acts of extraordinary compassion in the face of unmitigated evil, in part, because, true self sacrifice rarely survives to b [...]

  19. The Sunflower has been on my to read list for many years Simon Wiesenthal s recounting of his experience at the bedside of a dying SS soldier and the moral dilemma that it inflicted upon him is powerful and devastating It has shattered all of my overwrought and trivial wisdom about forgiveness There is no simple solution Perhaps, Mr Wiesenthal s response silence is the only real response that could be offered in such a situation Theologian Matthew Fox says this in his commentary on The Sunflower [...]

  20. I have read several books by Simon Wiesenthal and all of them are heart wrenching yet thought provoking The Sunflower was no exception Reading this book forces you to make the decision, would you be able to forgive this dying Nazi soldier who took part in the torture and suffering of the Jews I am amazed that Mr Wiesenthal was able to sit for as long as he did listening to this man It was pretty clear to me that this dying man was still only really concerned with himself and believes that if he [...]

  21. Not a summer read Too deep but I think it s an important book to read It s scary to think how a government can have corupt people rise to power, Hitler, and worse is to think how people don t stop it from happening How could anyone convince good boys who were raised with religious beliefs and morals to murder innocent Jews or any group for that matter on such a scale It shocks me to believe people are capable of shooting down woman, children and unarmed civilians with the belief they are subhuma [...]

  22. Simon Wiesenthal proposes the question, What would you have done What would I have done That is an impossible question to answer I would like to say that I would have forgiven the S.S officer, but at the same time I would like to say that I would not have forgiven him Is it my right to forgive on the behalf of others If so how can I if they are all dead The novel is mind boggling for not only me, for for most of those who respond to Simon s debacle Here is how I see it I think that forgiveness c [...]

  23. This book was just fascinating Simon Wiesenthal first relates his experience of being a prisoner in a concentration camp and having a dying Nazi soldier ask him for forgiveness for his crimes against the Jews Then there are 53 responses by noted theologians, historians, clerics and others as to whether what Mr Wiesenthal did was right or not Some responses focused on who has the right to forgive Others were really off topic I found myself underlining passages, writing comments in the margins, ag [...]

  24. While the topic is a self imposed question that asks all to consider Simon s actions, the story problem explores our understanding of forgiveness on numerous levels The essays at the end of the book attempt to explain human actions and place significance on the importance of free will Forgiveness is about letting go explains one essay while another essay mentions that if the SS officer was not facing death, his confession would not have happened and Desmond Tuto explains that forgiveness is perf [...]

  25. Simon Wiesenthal s story of being an inmate in a concentration camp and being asked by a dying Nazi soldier for forgiveness poses many moral issues for consideration and discussion Was it Simon s right to grant forgiveness and were his actions just Was the dying man truly repentant or just guilty and fearful of dying What of his choice of joining the SS and his choice of Simon as the listener of his last confession Should Simon have told the soldier s mother something other than what he did Thes [...]

  26. The first 80ish pages contain the main story and point of this book The rest of the book is people trying to answer how they would have handled the conundrum the author lays out in the beginning If a truly penitent person guilty of committing crimes against Jewish people now dead, partially as a result of his crimes asks for forgiveness how do you respond I won t try to clarify the situation any as it s a complex situation and you should read it in full context before trying to answer A fantast [...]

  27. I give this book 3.5 stars which rounds up to 4.I read this book for one of my philosophy classes This book poses a very interesting ethical dilemma As a prisoner in a concentration camp, do you forgive a dying SS solider This book offers numerous responses to this question Some were a bit repetitive Some didn t really answer the question at all But some were really thought provoking.

  28. This book provides a clear reminder that survivors of the Holocaust can be bad writers, too To be fair, I had to read this book because the college where I teach assigned this to all the Freshman The responses to the question Wiesenthal poses are not interesting either I will give the book an extra star, though, because I also disapprove of genocide.

  29. This is an analysis essay I wrote for my AP English class It is about the power and meaning of Silence in the Sunflower Not my best, but it ll have to do The Power of Silence in The Sunflower In The Sunflower On the Possibilities and Limits of Forgiveness, Simon Wiesenthal asks the reader s personal opinion on the act of forgiveness Are there crimes so heinous that forgiveness cannot be granted What must the guilty party do or feel in order to earn the forgiveness of the wronged And perhaps the [...]

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