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.
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.
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.
Although the Radicals formed a mere 20 percent of the students, this minority reigned because of the cowardice and laziness of the majority.
“Look,” he said, “those Jews died quickly, they did not suffer as I do—though they were not as guilty as I am.”
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?
“Why,” I asked, “is there no general law of guilt and expiation? Has every religion its own ethics, its own answers?”
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?”
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.
Those who might appear uninvolved in the actual crimes, but who tolerate acts of torture, humiliation, and murder, are certainly also guilty.
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.
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…
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.
Willful ignorance is a sin. In this case, a catastrophic sin that made the Holocaust possible.
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.
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.
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.
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.
I cannot encounter another person’s humanity as a category, but only when I meet him or her as a particular individual.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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?