The Sunflower by Simon Wiesenthal is a book that has the power to change your life, and to think about the act of forgiveness in a very deep way.
This is the true story of Simon Wiesenthal, and how, as a Jewish prisoner under the Nazi regime, he encountered a dying Nazi soldier who would ask Simon to do something that is very difficult: to forgive him for his sins against the Jewish people.
This book has two sections: the first section detailing Simon’s telling of the story, and the second which is filled with essays written by prominent figures of what they would do in Simon’s role. I didn’t read all of the commentary, but I did read some of them.
Does The Sunflower sound familiar to you? It’s the real-life version of the Jodi Picoult novel, The Storyteller.
One section of Simon’s tale really struck a chord with me. During a time when many Jews were living in the ghetto, the regime in charge wanted the children to be gone. The SS leader decided the best way to get all of the Jewish children out of hiding (so they could kill them, of course) would be to start a kindergarten, and advertise it as something for the good of the Jews. Extra food was even sent to the ghetto to help show the goodwill.
However, when the children came out of hiding to go to the kindergarten on that day, they were loaded onto SS trucks and brought straight to the gas chambers.
Does Simon have the right to forgive on behalf of all of the Jewish people that this dying Nazi killed, injured, etc?
Can he deny a dying man’s wish?
Will Simon forgive this Nazi?
Thanks for reading,