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The Sunflower: On the Possibilities and Limits of Forgivenessby Simon Wiesenthal
In the first hundred pages of The Sunflower, Holocaust survivor Simon Wiesenthal recounts his encounter with a dying German soldier who asked to speak with "a Jew" in order to seek forgiveness. Wiesenthal then invites everyone into the discussion, throwing open his personal experience for judgment in a series of short essays offered by philosophers, theologians, scholars, and religious leaders who offer their thoughts on what Wiesenthal should or could have done. More than a memoir, this is a deep exploration of the very idea of forgiveness. I read it over a decade ago, and it's still with me.
Synopses & Reviews
While imprisoned in a Nazi concentration camp, Simon Wiesenthal was taken one day from his work detail to the bedside of a dying member of the SS. Haunted by the crimes in which he had participated, the soldier wanted to confess to — and obtain absolution from — a Jew. Faced with the choice between compassion and justice, silence and 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, fifty-three distinguished men and women respond to Wiesenthal's questions. They are theologians, political leaders, writers, jurists, psychiatrists, human rights activists, Holocaust survivors, and victims of attempted genocides in Bosnia, Cambodia, China and 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 and always thought provoking, The Sunflower will challenge you to define your beliefs about justice, compassion, and human responsibility.
A group of philosophers, critics, and writers weigh the moral issues involved in a young Jews' response to a dying Nazi's confession of mass murder.
Robert Coles, The Dalai Lama, Matthew Fox, Mary Gordon, Harold S. Kushner, Albert Speer, Desmond Tutu, and 47 others respond to Wiesenthal's famous question: "Can evil be forgiven?"
About the Author
Simon Wiesenthal was born in 1908 in Buczacz, Galicia, at that time a part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. He was incarcerated between 1941 and 1945 in Buchenwald and Mauthausen and other concentration camps. In 1946, together with 30 other survivors, he founded the Jewish Historical Documentation Center, which was instrumental in the identification of over 1,100 Nazi war criminals. He has been honored by the governments of Italy, the Netherlands, Israel, and the United States. Wiesenthal is the author of many books, including The Murderers Among Us, Justice Not Vengeance, Sails of Hope, and Every Day Remembrance Day. Wiesenthal lives in Austria.
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