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: Erich H. Loewy Summary & Analysis

Loewy, who escaped from the Nazis in 1938, writes that not enough has been made of Simon’s exceptional compassion in the situation. He views this compassion as an acceptance of common humanity, which he supposes might perhaps have been more valuable to Karl than forgiveness.
Loewy notes Simon’s compassion, but also implies that perhaps Karl’s true desire was to be treated like a human being, demonstrating that it was the Nazis who truly lost their humanity during the Holocaust.
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Loewy understands Simon’s refusal to forgive Karl, because he cannot forgive the murder of someone else, nor should he need to point out the possibility of forgiveness from God because he is not a rabbi.
Loewy adds to the long list of Jewish respondents who agree with Simon’s decision not to forgive because he could not forgive in the name of Karl’s victims.
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Loewy also agrees with Simon’s decision to lie to Karl’s mother, viewing it as a well-calculated and kind decision to shield her from the truth. He finds a lesson in these two visits: that compassion and rationality are both necessary when grappling with ethical questions. Simon exercised both, and Loewy hopes that he himself would have the strength to act in a similar fashion.
Loewy views both of Simon’s judgements as compassionate, and views compassion as essential when weighing ethical questions. Even without Simon’s forgiveness, Karl felt comforted by his kindness, and certainly Karl’s mother would have been devastated by the truth.
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