Simon Wiesenthal The Sunflower

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The Sunflower is a memoir of Simon Wiesenthal’s experience in a Polish concentration camp and his internal conflict of whether he did the right thing by remaining silent when a dying SS man asked him for forgiveness. Wiesenthal wrestles with this choice and at the end of his memoir, he extends the question “What would you do?” to the readers. Drawing my own opinion from a number of people including “theologians, writers, human rights activists, Holocaust survivors, political leaders, and victims of attempted genocide in Bosnia, Cambodia, China, and Tibet” whom have responded to this question. I personally would have been just as conflicted as Wiesenthal was, but ultimately I would have chosen to forgive him. It is easier for me to look at …show more content…

He was not wrong to respond to the SS man’s wishes with silence. Wiesenthal was placed in a difficult situation in which he was not directly harmed by Karl, but he was still connected to the events that occurred and the deaths caused by the hands of the Nazi regime. There is truly no way to tell if Karl was sincerely remorseful for his endeavors. If he somehow lived, would he still be overcome by his guilt or would he return to his sadistic ways? There is no way of knowing. Every person is responsible for his or her actions. As Smail Balic said in his response essay “No soul carries the burden of another.”(110) Only the guilty can absolve their guilt, but sometimes it takes the acknowledgment and words of another human to reach this release. This can be as small as a person who makes a rude remark to another then someone else steps in and calls them out. The “perpetrator” then reflects on their comment and feels guilty for it then transforms their attitude so they aren’t the “bad guy” anymore. I believe that forgiveness allows the perpetrator a chance for inner transformation and “to escape the whirlpool of wrongdoing” (Matthieu Ricard- 236)that they may feel caught

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