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: Manès Sperber Summary & Analysis

Sperber is unsure how he might have reacted in Simon’s situation, but he establishes one principle: it is possible to forget even the worst crime committed against us, and if that happens, the question of forgiveness is superfluous. Without repentance and confession, forgetting is a continuation of the crime.
Sperber joins the respondents who believe that forgetting the Holocaust would be unthinkable, particularly because forgetting the crimes without punishment would essentially render them acceptable in the future.
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Sperber acknowledges Karl’s guilt, but says that Karl differed from others because he brought the accusation against himself. Still, Simon was right in refusing to pardon him. Yet Sperber wonders whether Simon would still condemn him if Karl had lived and been truly changed. He thinks not, and believes that no one should refuse to forgive a person whose guilt becomes the source of a truly tortured conscience.
Sperber references an argument based in Judaism: he believes that Karl should go unforgiven because he did not have the opportunity to atone. However, if he had lived and had endured some form of punishment, he would have been worthy of forgiveness then.
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