Recently, my class finished reading the book The Sunflower by Simon Wiesenthal. This book takes place during the Holocaust from the perspective of the author. The author is a Holocaust survivor who brought many Nazi soldiers to justice after the war. Simon discusses his opinions on forgiveness. At the end of the book, he gets people to say what they think they would have done if they were in the same situation. Those were called symposiums. For my assignment, I have to write my own symposium. Here it is.

In the book The Sunflower, Simon Wiesenthal displays great ideas of forgiveness during the horrible time of the Holocaust. For Simon, I could never fathom the amount of pain and suffering he and others endured during this time. Simon was presented with a difficult situation. He used his initiative and intellect to handle the situation. A dying Nazi soldier, Karl Seidl, who committed horrible crimes, asks Simon to forgive him. The reason why I think Karl asked a Jew, who was at the time considered the lowest class by the Nazis in Germany, is because Christians believe very highly in forgiveness. Some Christians believe that you have to be forgiven of your sins to be let into heaven. But, I think this is kind of hypocritical of what the Nazi soldier was doing. First of all, Karl killed people and committed many other sins before he had his deathly incident. Since he was a Christian at the time of these events, he should have known not to commit these sins if he were to go to Heaven. Now, he thinks what he did was wrong and he is asking for forgiveness. He should have thought about that when he was doing those sins.

Right after Simon Wiesenthal ignores Karl and refuses to forgive him, Simon rethinks what he did. He is very unsure that what he did was right. He asks many fellow Jews and prison mates at the Lemberg concentration camp what they would have done. Simon gets very divided answers. Some people said that he did the right thing by not forgiving him. Others said that forgiving someone is always the right thing to do, no matter the sin or who the perpetrator. And still, over seventy years later, he continually rethinks what he should have done. So, at the end of the Sunflower, Simon gets fifty-three distinguished men and women to say what they would have done and their opinion on forgiveness. I think what Simon did was the correct thing to do. Simon couldn’t represent all the people that were killed by Karl and other Nazi soldiers. It would have to be those people that could forgive Karl, not Simon. Chaim Herzog once said, “I do not bring forgiveness with me, nor forgetfulness. The only ones who can forgive are dead; the living have no right to forgive.” Simon wasn’t really affected by Karl except for when Karl asked for forgiveness.

Simon Wiesenthal was very bold by not forgiving a Nazi soldier. Simon knew that Karl could have someone come in and kill him if he refused to forgive Karl. Knowing this, Simon still did what was right and let the Nazi soldier die without being forgiven.