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The Sunflower: On the Possibilities and Limits of Forgiveness Paperback – 1 Jan 1998


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Product details

  • Paperback: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Schocken Books (1 Jan. 1998)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0805210601
  • ISBN-13: 978-0805210606
  • Product Dimensions: 13.2 x 1.6 x 20.3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (25 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 45,588 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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21 of 22 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 28 Sept. 1998
Format: Paperback
Weisenthal, a Jew in a concentration camp in the Holocaust, is pulled out of work one day to listen to the confession of a dying SS man. The Nazi is truly repentant of his horrendous sins, and asks Weisenthal for forgivness. Even after Weisenthal makes his decision as to what to say, he spends the rest of his life wondering if he made the right choice. This book addresses such important questions as "can one man grant forgivness for another?" and "do even the Nazis deserve second chances?" Most importantly, Weisenthal (the writer of the true story) asks the reader "what would you have done?" This is the type of book that holds you in a horrified fascination so that you can't get it out of your hands until you've finished it, and you can't get it out of your mind until long after. *Everybody* should read this book.
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19 of 20 people found the following review helpful By Ralph Blumenau TOP 500 REVIEWER on 14 Dec. 2007
Format: Paperback
Simon Wiesenthal is best known as the man who had been indefatigable and single-minded in trying to bring Nazi criminals to justice as long as there was a single one of them left. For him this was an absolute moral imperative and something that he felt he owed to the memory of the murdered millions of Jews, of whom Wiesenthal could so easily have been one: he was the survivor of a succession of concentration camps: the Janowska camp outside Lvov, Plaszow (the camp of Schindler's List), Auschwitz, Gross-Rosen, and finally Mauthausen. It may come as a surprise to some readers that Wiesenthal was sensitive to the moral problems raised by the issue of forgiveness - yet this book is a moving meditation on that theme. According to his biographer, Hella Pick, Wiesenthal had `always considered it his most important book'.

Cruelty and casual murder were everyday occurrences in the Janowska camp, and are described in gut-wrenching detail in the first half of this episode from Wiesenthal's life. While doing slave labour at a military hospital near the camp, he was secretly brought to the death-bed of Karl, a gravely wounded 21-year old SS officer whose conscience was wracked - not just at death's door, but apparently immediately after the event - by his participation in a horrific massacre of Jews in Dnepropetrovsk. The officer got a nurse to find `a Jew', who happened to be Wiesenthal, to whom he could make his confession and from whom he could seek forgiveness. Wiesenthal wanted to get away; but something - apart from the dying man's grip - made him stay to hear him out. A Catholic priest later told him that that alone should have helped the man to die in peace, since confession and genuine repentance are more important than any absolution.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 28 Sept. 1998
Format: Paperback
The Sunflower is a very good firsthand account of the Nazi concentration camps. Wiesenthal depicts the setting and tone of the area so well at you feel like you're right there with him in those cramped beds recalling the horrors of the day. Towards the second half, the book progresses into a torturous confession of an S.S. officer and a plea of forgiveness. Wiesenthal leaves the reader to ponder the choice that he had to make, by leaving the story open to the mind. You'll ponder the question of "what would you do?" for days and weeks to come. I highly recommend this book to all readers.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 28 Sept. 1998
Format: Paperback
This book is a compelling tale which illustrates the life of a Jew in a concentration camp. He is a dead man walking, yet when confronted with the unusual circumstance of forgiving a dying Nazi for his evil deeds, he makes his own decisions. This book is easy to read, yet thought provoking. It provides in detail the daily tragedies taking place and horror stories turned realities in such extermination facilities. A great book to read when studying WW2 in Europe
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10 of 12 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 24 Sept. 1998
Format: Paperback
Simon Wiesenthal's book, The Sunflower, is a true life story of a Jew called to the bedside of a dying Nazi to hear the Nazi's life story. The Nazi then asks the Jew, Wiesenthal, to forgive him. Wiesenthal leaves in silence, but poses to you the same question: In his position, would you have forgiven the Nazi? A very thought-provoking book, The Sunflower makes the reader ponder for hours over the meaning of right and wrong, as well as giving a vivid picture of a Jew's life during the Holocaust. An excellent read.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
This is a soul-searing book. I started reading it at 5pm on the day it arrived, read until I fell asleep at 10, woke up again at 2am and carried on reading until I finally finished it at 4am. It took possession of my mind as no other book has done, and ever since, I continued to work through its implications.
The fact that these events occurred 75 years ago is irrelevant. Evil is evil, however long ago it happened. The moral situation is unchanged.
My father was Jewish, and had Hitler's armies invaded, both he and I would have been sent away and murdered. I can therefore put myself to some extent in Wiesenthal's position: what would I have done if this man had been responsible for the horrific death of my beloved father?
There are some enormities before which only silence is possible, and I admire Wiesenthal beyond measure for his self-control and his life-time's dedication to the hunting down of these monsters.
This book is one which should be required reading for everyone. No moral position can be posited which does not in some measure take account of this situation.
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