The Sunflower: On the Possibilities and Limits of Forgiveness

The Sunflower: On the Possibilities and Limits of Forgiveness

by

Simon Wiesenthal

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The Sunflower: On the Possibilities and Limits of Forgiveness Quotes

Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Schocken Books edition of The Sunflower: On the Possibilities and Limits of Forgiveness published in 1969.
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Book 1: The Sunflower Quotes

It is impossible to believe anything in a world that has ceased to regard man as man, which repeatedly “proves” that one is no longer a man.

Related Characters: Simon (speaker), Karl, Arthur
Page Number: 9
Explanation and Analysis:

One really begins to think that God is on leave. Otherwise the present state of things wouldn’t be possible […] What the old woman had said in no way shocked me, she had simply stated what I had long felt to be true.

Related Characters: Simon (speaker), Arthur, Josek
Page Number: 9
Explanation and Analysis:

For me there would be no sunflower. I would be buried in a mass grave, where corpses would be piled on top of me. No sunflower would ever bring light into my darkness, and no butterflies would dance above my dreadful tomb.

Related Characters: Simon (speaker)
Related Symbols: Sunflower
Page Number: 14-15
Explanation and Analysis:

Although the Radicals formed a mere 20 percent of the students, this minority reigned because of the cowardice and laziness of the majority.

Related Characters: Simon (speaker)
Page Number: 19
Explanation and Analysis:

“Look,” he said, “those Jews died quickly, they did not suffer as I do—though they were not as guilty as I am.”

Related Characters: Karl (speaker), Simon
Page Number: 52
Explanation and Analysis:

I asked myself if it was only the Nazis who had persecuted us. Was it not just as wicked for people to look on quietly and without protest at human beings enduring such shocking humiliation? But in their eyes were we human beings at all?

Related Characters: Simon (speaker)
Page Number: 57
Explanation and Analysis:

“Why,” I asked, “is there no general law of guilt and expiation? Has every religion its own ethics, its own answers?”

“Probably, yes.”

Related Characters: Simon (speaker), Arthur (speaker), Karl, Josek
Page Number: 67
Explanation and Analysis:

You, who have just read this sad and tragic episode in my life, can mentally change places with me and ask yourself the crucial question, “What would I have done?”

Related Characters: Simon (speaker), Karl, Arthur
Page Number: 98
Explanation and Analysis:
Sven Alkalaj Quotes

Forgetting the crimes would be worse than forgiving the criminal who seeks forgiveness, because forgetting the crimes devalues the humanity that perished in these atrocities.

Related Characters: Simon, Karl
Page Number: 102
Explanation and Analysis:
Smail Balić Quotes

Those who might appear uninvolved in the actual crimes, but who tolerate acts of torture, humiliation, and murder, are certainly also guilty.

Related Characters: Simon, Karl’s Mother, Karl’s father
Page Number: 111
Explanation and Analysis:
Moshe Bejski Quotes

Even if Wiesenthal believed that he was empowered to grant a pardon in the name of the murdered masses, such an act of mercy would have been a kind of betrayal and repudiation of the memory of millions of innocent victims who were unjustly murdered, among them, the members of his family.

Related Characters: Simon, Karl
Page Number: 115
Explanation and Analysis:
Robert Coles Quotes

Let us […] take to heart what may be, finally, the author’s real intent for us: that we never, ever forget what happened to him and millions of others…

Related Characters: Simon
Page Number: 129
Explanation and Analysis:
Matthew Fox Quotes

By holding his hand Simon was being present and being human. Though holding his hand repulsed him after more of the horror story was revealed, still he stayed in the room and listened. Listening was his gift; listening was his act of compassion.

Related Characters: Simon, Karl
Page Number: 145
Explanation and Analysis:

Willful ignorance is a sin. In this case, a catastrophic sin that made the Holocaust possible.

Related Characters: Simon, Karl, Karl’s Mother
Page Number: 147
Explanation and Analysis:
Hans Habe Quotes

Forgiveness is the imitation of God. Punishment too is an imitation of God. God punishes and forgives, in that order. But God never hates. That is the moral value worth striving for, but perhaps unattainable.

Related Characters: Simon, Karl
Page Number: 162
Explanation and Analysis:
Theodore M. Hesburgh Quotes

Can we aspire to be as forgiving of each other as God is of us?

Of course, the sin here is monumental. It is still finite and God's mercy is infinite.

If asked to forgive, by anyone for anything, I would forgive because God would forgive.

Related Characters: Simon, Karl
Page Number: 162
Explanation and Analysis:
Abraham Joshua Heschel Quotes

No one can forgive crimes committed against other people […] According to Jewish tradition, even God Himself can only forgive sins committed against Himself, not against man.

Related Characters: Simon, Karl
Page Number: 171
Explanation and Analysis:
José Hobday Quotes

I would have forgiven, as much for my own peace as for Karl’s […] No one, no memory, should have the power to hold us down, to deny us peace. Forgiving is the real power.

Related Characters: Simon, Karl
Page Number: 175
Explanation and Analysis:
Roger Kamanetz Quotes

I cannot encounter another person’s humanity as a category, but only when I meet him or her as a particular individual.

Related Characters: Simon, Karl
Page Number: 181
Explanation and Analysis:
Cardinal Franz König Quotes

Nevertheless, you had an opportunity to put forward an act of almost superhuman goodness in the midst of a subhuman and bestial world of atrocities.

Related Characters: Simon, Karl
Page Number: 183
Explanation and Analysis:
Hubert G. Locke Quotes

By our silence, perhaps we acknowledge as much; we own up to our humanness. We concede that we are not gods and that we lack, as much as we might be loath to admit it, the capacity to provide understanding and assurance for every inexplicable moment in life.

Related Characters: Simon
Page Number: 202
Explanation and Analysis:
Matthieu Ricard Quotes

To grant forgiveness to someone who has truly changed is not a way of condoning or forgetting his or her past crimes, but of acknowledging whom he or she has become.

Related Characters: Simon, Karl
Page Number: 236
Explanation and Analysis:
Albert Speer Quotes

You helped me a great deal—as you helped the SS man when you did not withdraw your hand or reproach him. Every human being has his burden to bear.

Related Characters: Simon, Karl
Page Number: 246
Explanation and Analysis:
André Stein Quotes

We must not forget that millions were murdered by a nation of good sons. Every woman who doggedly holds on to a pristine moral image of her son is a collaborator in his crime.

Related Characters: Simon, Karl, Karl’s Mother
Page Number: 255
Explanation and Analysis:
Tzvetan Todorov Quotes

We are not contemplating an action in the present, but the place of a past action in our memory. What can we do with evil in the past, how can we put it to use in the service of our moral education?

Related Characters: Simon
Page Number: 266
Explanation and Analysis:
No matches.