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: Smail Balić Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
Balić opens by saying that now that there have been thirty years to reflect on Simon’s question and the matter can be treated a little more dispassionately, he believes that he would have done the same thing that Simon did.
Balić’s opening statement confirms some of the fears that the previous two respondents had: that time alone will fade the memory of the pain and suffering caused by the Holocaust.
Themes
Forgiveness and Compassion Theme Icon
Remembrance Theme Icon
There are those who argue that because Karl did not injure Simon himself, Simon could forgive him with more ease. These people miss the point of general absolution. Balíc states that he feels bound to summon up compassion for every sufferer, but that atonement for a sin is something that must be settled between the perpetrator and the victim.
As Balić states at the beginning of his response, his beliefs echo Simon’s own actions. He does not feel that Simon had the right to forgive, but would have been as compassionate as possible regardless, just as Simon was.
Themes
Forgiveness and Compassion Theme Icon
Balić finishes by highlighting The Sunflower’s other themes, recognizing that those who tolerate acts of torture, humiliation, and murder, are guilty even if they appear uninvolved in the actual crimes. The story also examines prejudices and stereotypes, with which the world must continue to come to terms. The Sunflower, he states, provides a good education on this legacy and how to move forward.
Balić’s conclusion touches on nearly every other idea presented in the book: the dangers of silence and complicity, the horrors of dehumanization, and the importance of the book itself as a means for remembering the Holocaust.
Themes
Remembrance Theme Icon
Anti-Semitism and Dehumanization Theme Icon
Silence, Guilt, and Resistance Theme Icon
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