The Sunflower: On the Possibilities and Limits of Forgiveness

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9781452653976: The Sunflower: On the Possibilities and Limits of Forgiveness

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 war 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 genocide 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.

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Review:

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.

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.

This unusual encounter and the moral dilemma it posed raise fundamental questions about the limits and possibilities of forgiveness. Must we, can we forgive the repentant criminal? Can we forgive crimes committed against others? What do we owe the victims?

Thirty-five years after the Holocaust, Wiesenthal asked leading intellectuals what they would have done in his place. Collected into one volume, their responses became a classic of Holocaust literature and a touchstone of interfaith dialogue. This revised edition of The Sunflower includes 46 responses (ten from the original volume) from prominent theologians, political leaders, writers, jurists, psychiatrists, human rights activists, Holocaust survivors, and victims of attempted genocides in Bosnia, Cambodia, China and Tibet. Their answers reflect the teachings of their diverse beliefs--Jewish, Christian, Buddhist, Muslim, secular, and agnostic--and remind us that Wiesenthal's question is 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.

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