The Sunflower: On the Possibilities and Limits of Forgiveness Paperback – Apr 7 1998
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Author Simon Weisenthal recalls his demoralizing life in a concentration camp and his envy of the dead Germans who have sunflowers marking their graves. At the time he assumed his grave would be a mass one, unmarked and forgotten. Then, one day, a dying Nazi soldier asks Weisenthal for forgiveness for his crimes against the Jews. What would you do? This important book and the provocative question it poses is birthing debates, symposiums, and college courses. The Dalai Lama, Harry Wu, Primo Levi, and others who have witnessed genocide and human tyranny answer Wiesenthal's ultimate question on forgiveness. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
From Library Journal
In this 1976 volume, divided into two sections, Wiesenthal tackles the question of the possibilities and limits of forgiveness. The first part relates the story of how Wiesenthal, as a prisoner in a Nazi concentration camp, was brought before a dying SS trooper, who explained his actions and asked for forgiveness, which Wiesenthal could not bring himself to bestow. In the second section, Wiesenthal presents the story to an array of leading intellectuals and asks, "What would you have done?" This edition contains all the original responses plus additional ones from Primo Levi, Cynthia Ozick, Albert Speer, and others. Heavy stuff.
Copyright 1997 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
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Top Customer Reviews
Much of his 98-page account covers his unwilling audience with a dying SS man named Karl who had asked the nun on duty to fetch a Jewish prisoner, any Jewish prisoner. He did not tell her why. Once Wiesenthal entered, Karl began a long tale of how he had come to this place, what he had done and why he wanted forgiveness. What Karl said and how Wiesenthal reacted are riveting. Years later, the latter traveled to Stuttgart to meet Karl's mother, yet did not tell her what he had learned about her son. I could have done no better in his place.
I found the details surrounding his encounter equally riveting. One day, Wiesenthal was ordered to join a concentration camp work detail that hiked into the town of Lemberg, where he had attended Technical High School in Sapiehy Street. By coincidence, the guards brought the enslaved men through the streets he had once walked as a free young man, to the very building where he had attended school. As he walked, he thought of events, both recent ones in the camp and more distant events in Lemberg and at his school. He recounts them all.
Readers also learn of Wiesenthal's friends Arthur and Josek, neither of whom survived, who comforted and consoled one another and him, talking philosophically under the most inhuman circumstances in order to maintain their humanity.
The reactions of various famed writers, religious leaders and others are less important. Some are nevertheless compelling by virtue of their authorship or unique content. These include replies by Holocaust survivors Jean Amery, Moshe Bejske, Abraham Joshua Heschel, Primo Levi and Nechana Tec, two of whom later committed suicide, and Rabbi Lawrence Kushner.Read more ›
I liked the fact that Simon's conscience bothered him after he left the soldier's bedside once he heard his terrible tale. I enjoyed his philosophical talks with his fellow prisoners as well as the trip he took to the soldier's mothers house after the war. This was a well-written book and it should be required reading in all high schools.
Most recent customer reviews
I'm disappointed with this book. I liked the first part where Wiesenthal describes the dying SS man asking him for forgiveness. Read morePublished 9 months ago by Laura O'Reilly
Thought provoking. Challenging book with respect to extending forgiveness to others.Published 13 months ago by JAWBC
The author has taken me personally to a new level in my life! While reading it, and then for weeks after, I could not tell enough people about it. Read morePublished on July 1 2004 by Jane E. Russell
This is a very strange book in many, many ways. A dying S.S. officer asks for 'a Jew' (any Jew concentration camp inmate will do) so that he can ask for forgiveness for killing... Read morePublished on Sept. 2 2003 by Drew W. Miller
What is Wiesenthal's problem? Is he afraid that God will be mad at him if he made a mistake in deciding whether to forgive or not forgive this guy; that maybe God won't forgive... Read morePublished on June 23 2002 by Amazon Customer
This is a book I was assigned to read for my freshman Foundations of Inquiry class in college. By the end, I was so greatful that I had the opportunity to read this book. Read morePublished on Nov. 30 2001
The Sunflower tells the story of a dying Nazi soldier who seeks out Simon Wiesenthal for forgiveness for his crimes against the Jews so he can die in peace. Read morePublished on July 27 2001 by Robert Von Gerds
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