The Sunflower: On the Possibilities and Limits of Forgiveness Paperback – 1 Jan 1998
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From the Inside Flap
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 way 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.
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.
Among the contributors:
Sven Alkalaj, Bosnian Ambassador to the U.S., Moshe Bejski, retired justice of the Supreme Court of Israel, Robert McAfee Brown, leading Protestant theologian, Robert Coles, Harvard professor of social ethics and author, The Dalai Lama, Eugene Fisher, National Conference of Catholic Bishops, Matthew Fox, author and leading Episcopalian theologian, Yossi Klein Halevi, Israeli journalist and son of a Holocaust survivor, Arthur Hertzberg, rabbi and author, Theodore Hesburgh, President Emeritus of the University of Notre Dame, Hans Konig, Cardinal of Vienna, Harold Kushner, rabbi and best-selling author, Primo Levi, Italian Holocaust survivor and author, Cynthia Ozick, novelist and essayist, Dennis Prager, author and conservative radio commentator, Dith Pran, photographer and subject of the film "The Killing Fields" about the Cambodian genocide, Albert Speer, German Nazi war criminal and author, Tzvetan Todorov, French literary critic, Harry Wu, Chinese human rights activist.
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Top Customer Reviews
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.Read more ›
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.
A book which deals with a very deep, if not the deepest, moral dilemma.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Read a long time ago and never forgotten. The book everyone must read: a modern parable - What would I do?Published 3 months ago by valerie watson
Absolutely gripping. I can't really say I loved it as the story is not something to be loved about but sets you off to search your inner self and to get your thoughts much deeper... Read morePublished 8 months ago by Vincy
I thought his story was really riveting- can't imagine being in the situation, but nonetheless something to think about what I would have done.. Read morePublished 10 months ago by Linda Moore
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