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SPOILER ALERT: It will not be possible to discuss this book without revealing its core, so do not proceed if you plan on reading it.

Simon Wiesenthal's, The Sunflower is a powerful fable that forces us to ask the very deepest questions we confront as human beings. (I use the term fable advisedly.) While imprisoned by the Nazis at the Lemberg concentration camp in 1943, Mr. Wiesenthal was part of a work party ordered to clean up an army hospital. He was summoned from that detail and brought to see a dying soldier named Karl Seidl. The Nazi seeks forgiveness from a Jew for a particular atrocity he participated in committing. He narrates his life story and how he came to be in a position to murder 300 Jews by fire and gunfire. He is seeking to make his listener understand his story and then forgive him, as religious scruples dictate he is entitled to be.

The dilemma for Mr. Wiesenthal, and for us, is obvious enough: does fealty to`our faith demand even this of us, not just that we forgive sins against us but the most monstrous sins humans have ever indulged in?

You can read the book to find out how the author deal with the situation. For my money, while we are obligated to forgive even such monsters, a victim need not do so in the moment. It almost allows the perpetrator to victimize them again. Those among us who are capable of such spiritual largesse really are saints.


Grade: (B+)


See also:

Simon Wiesenthal Links:

    -WIKIPEDIA: Simon Weisenthal
    -Simon Weisenthal Center
    -ENTRY: Simon Wiesenthal 1908-2005 (Museum of Tolerance)
    -ENTRY: NAZI HUNTING: SIMON WIESENTHAL (Holocaust Encyclopedia)
    -ENTRY: Simon Wiesenthal: Jewish human-rights activist (Tom Segev, Encyclopaedia Britannica)
    -ENTRY: Simon Wiesenthal (1908 - 2005) (Jewish Virtual Library)
    -BIO: Who Was Simon Wiesenthal? (PBS)
    -ENTRY: Wiesenthal, Simon (
    -OBIT: Simon Wiesenthal Dies at Age 96 (Steve Inskeep, 9/20/2005, NPR: Morning Edition)
-FILMOGRAPHY: Simon Weisenthal (IMDB)
    -OBIT: Simon Wiesenthal, 'Conscience of the Holocaust,' Dies at 96: Wiesenthal dedicated his life to bringing Nazis to justice and fighting anti-Semitism and prejudice. (AP, 9/20/2005)
    -OBIT: Simon Wiesenthal Is Dead at 96; Tirelessly Pursued Nazi Fugitives (Ralph Blumenthal, Sept. 21, 2005. NY Times)
    -OBIT: Simon Wiesenthal: In keeping alive the memory of the Holocaust and bringing its perpetrators to justice, he became a hero for a cruel century (Hella Pick, 20 Sep 2005, The Guardian)
    -OBIT: Obituary: Simon Wiesenthal (BBC, 9/20/05)
-WIKIPEDIA: The Sunflower
    -Forgiveness: The Sunflower Project
    -BOOK GROUP: The Sunflower (JEWISH STUDIES SUNDAY BOOK & DISCUSSION GROUP, Digital Commons, Loyola Marymount)
    -SUMMARY: The Sunflower (Quick Reads)
    -READING GUIDE: The Sunflower Reader’s Guide By Simon Wiesenthal (Penguin Random House)
    -STUDY GUIDE: The Sunflower (Super Summary)
    -STUDY GUIDE: The Sunflower by Simon Wiesenthal (Lesson Plans by Rebecca Ray, Storyboard That)
    -SUMMARY: The Sunflower (12min)
    -ANALYSIS: The Sunflower (Study Mode)
    -READING GROUP GUIDE: The Sunflower (Reading Group Guides)
    -STUDY GUIDE: The Sunflower (Grade Saver)
-SERMON: The Sunflower || The Way of Forgiveness (Word of Life Church)
    -EXCERPT: Chapter One of Simon Wiesenthal: A Life in Search of Justice by Hella Pick
    -ESSAY: Why I believe the king of the Nazi hunters, Simon Wiesenthal, was a fraud (Guy Walters, 10 September 2010, Daily Mail)
    -ESSAY: ‘Remember the 11 million’? Why an inflated victims tally irks Holocaust historians (RON KAMPEAS, JANUARY 31, 2017, JTA)
    -ESSAY: 'As a Holocaust Survivor': How Nazi Hunter Simon Wiesenthal Fought to Save Bosnian Muslim Lives: From the moment the Bosnian war started, Simon Wiesenthal advocated for America to act, directly appealing to U.S. presidents – a campaign fueled by his own suffering in Nazi ghettos and camps. It is an example of Jewish-Bosniak solidarity that should galvanize both communities today, too (Hamza Karcic, Sep 3, 2023, Ha'aretz)
    -ESSAY: Foolhardy Wisdom: Can we afford to love our enemies in an unforgiving society? (Benjamin Crosby, AUGUST 22, 2023, Plough)
    -REVIEW ESSAY: The Sunflower: Guilt, Forgiveness, and Reconciliation (Eleonore Stump, Forgiveness and its Moral Dimension: Chaper 8)
    -REVIEW ESSAY: The Survival of the Question: Simon Wiesenthal’s The Sunflower (Peter Banki, The Forgiveness to Come: Chapter One)
    -REVIEW: of The Sunflower by Simon Weisenthal (Kirkus)
    -REVIEW: of The Sunflower (Tony Stern, M.D., Now Comment)
    -REVIEW: of The Sunflower (Joseph Schuman, Divided We Fall)
    -REVIEW: of The Sunflower (Patricia M. Patterson, Administrative Theory & Praxis)
    -REVIEW: of The Sunflower (Wendy Cooley,
    -REVIEW: of The Sunflower (Claudia Moscovici, Literaturesalon's Blog)
    -REVIEW: of The Sunflower (Methodistic)
    -REVIEW: of The Sunflower (Publishers Weekly)
    -REVIEW: of The Sunflower (Nathan Albright, Edge Induced Cohesion)
    -REVIEW: of The Sunflower (Currents of Living Water)
    -REVIEW: of The Sunflower (Code318.WordPress.Com)
    -REVIEW: of The Sunflower (
    -REVIEW: of The Sunflower (
    -REVIEW: of Hunting Evil by Guy Walters (Daniel Finkelstein, The Jewish Chronicle)
    -REVIEW: of Hunting Evil (James Holland, The Telegraph)
    -REVIEW: of Hunting Evil (Michael Berenbaum, Ha'aretz)
    -REVIEW: of Hunting Evil (Jonathan Mirsky, Literary Review)
    -REVIEW: of Hunting Evil (
    -REVIEW: of Hunting Evil (
    -REVIEW: of Hunting Evil (
    -REVIEW: of Simon Wiesenthal: The Life and Legends by Tom Segev (Dwight Garner, NY Times Book Review)
    -REVIEW: of Simon Wiesenthal: The Life and Legend (Deborah E. Lipstadt, Jewish Review of Books)
    -REVIEW: of Simon Wiesenthal: The Life and Legend (Publishers Weekly)

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