In Morah Eta’s class, we just finished reading The Sunflower by Simon Wiesenthal. This book is about a Jewish man named Simon whose story began at a concentration camp. He somehow ended up at a German hospital where he was led by a nurse to a dying Nazi soldier. This soldier told Simon his story and then asked if Simon could forgive him. Simon didn’t forgive the man, but at the end of this book, there were many symposiums that answered the question of whether Simon should have forgiven the Nazi or not. Mrs Teitelbaum assigned us to write our own symposium and share our opinions on the book. Here is mine.
Because of indifference, one dies before one actually dies. – Elie Wiesel
Indifference is one word I would use to describe Simon’s situation. The man who asked him for forgiveness was indifferent to the killings of hundreds of Jews who died at the hands of Nazi soldiers. He stood there and watched without speaking out or trying to put a stop to the madness. That is indifference. As Elie Wiesel’s quote says, a person who is neutral in a situation and doesn’t do anything, in one sense has died. This situation of indifference caused the Nazi bystander to metaphorically die. He became a shell of the man he once was and was obviously haunted by his indifference which he took to the grave. The man who had asked Simon for forgiveness had no right to do so. Jewish law teaches that we are obligated to ask for forgiveness directly from the people we have victimized. The Nazi didn’t ask the people he needed to ask for forgiveness. He thought that if he asked one Jew to forgive him, that Jew would represent all the people he had wronged. This outlook is totally warped and makes me think that the SS soldier just wanted a quick way to be forgiven for his wrongdoings. If I were Simon, I would have done the exact same thing he did. I believe that Simon was delicate in not forgiving the man which is the right thing to do. Even when Simon chose not to forgive the man, the way he did showed his true character and strong morals. I would have done the exact same thing by quietly walking out of the room. I have a deeply rooted sense of faith and I believe that what Simon did totally reflected what any other Jew who had faith would have done. I rest my case.