The Sunflower

The Power that Forgiveness can Grant
      Simon Wiesenthal unfortunately lived his life as commonly as a Jew was allowed to during the German controlled concentration camps of World War 2. This all changed when Wiesenthal was confronted with something that was anything but common for this time period. That was the gift of forgiveness that was requested on behalf of a dying SS solider named Karl. Karl, who had committed severe crimes against humanity, accounted one specific offense to Wiesenthal in hopes for a peaceful passing into the afterlife. This placed Wiesenthal in a position to which he had to decide two things.   First, if he had the authority to forgive this SS solider for what he had done as the offense did not occur against him directly. Secondly, if he was willing to forgive such a horrible crime on behalf of his people.
      Many instances come and go without any real long-term consequence or impact. Occasionally there are pivotal moments in our lives that, for better or worse, change something in our core being or, at the very least, cause us to question elements of our foundation. It could be argued that Wiesenthal was one of the few exceptions to this idea, in that his life for an extended period was riddled with events that one would see as life changing. Even within these “life changing events” lies an event so momentous that it causes a man so saturated with tragedy to question some elements of his foundation when countless other tragedies were deemed life as usual.   Defiantly leaving the bedside of a dying SS solider in silence who pleaded with him for forgiveness regarding one horrific atrocity committed against fellow Jews, the author of The Sunflower makes the decision to deny the dying man the peace of forgiveness. His peers console him by telling him he had no place to forgive the man for his acts. I tend to side with what Harold Kushner points out in regards that if god chose to forgive Karl that he would feel as if he had removed the...