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.
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. ~ Library Journal