The Sunflower: On the Possibilities and Limits of Forgiveness

The Sunflower: On the Possibilities and Limits of Forgiveness


Simon Wiesenthal

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The Sunflower: On the Possibilities and Limits of Forgiveness: Albert Speer Summary & Analysis

Speer, a Nazi leader, acknowledged responsibility for his crimes at the Nuremberg trial. Even after twenty years of imprisonment, he cannot forgive himself for supporting a regime that carried out the systematic murder of Jews and others.
Speer’s response is unique among the essays because he understands the situation from Karl’s perspective, but he also understands that he is past forgiveness because of the atrocities he committed against the Jews.
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Speer notes that Manès Sperber (who wrote the following essay) assumes that Simon would not condemn Karl if he had lived and remained faithful to his conviction of remorse. Speer reveals that in 1975, he and Simon sat facing each other for three hours at his Documentation Center, and Speer had been touched by Simon’s lack of hatred, which had helped Speer a great deal. He assumes that Simon’s compassion also helped Karl, when he did not withdraw his hand or reproach him. He feels that Simon gave him God’s grace.
Speer verifies (at least for himself) what many others hypothesize: that Simon’s compassion was in some ways more helpful than his forgiveness in easing the suffering of Speer’s (and Karl’s) guilty conscience.
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