The Sunflower: On the Possibilities and Limits of Forgiveness

The Sunflower: On the Possibilities and Limits of Forgiveness

by

Simon Wiesenthal

Teachers and parents! Struggling with distance learning? Our Teacher Edition on The Sunflower can help.
The Schutzstaffel (SS) was a major paramilitary organization under Hitler and the Nazi Party. Membership was originally open only to people of German origin, a rule that was later relaxed. Members of the SS, like Karl, were involved in numerous atrocities and mass murders of Jews and others.
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SS Term Timeline in The Sunflower: On the Possibilities and Limits of Forgiveness

The timeline below shows where the term SS appears in The Sunflower: On the Possibilities and Limits of Forgiveness. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Book 1: The Sunflower
Anti-Semitism and Dehumanization Theme Icon
...coffee because he had not wanted to push his way through the crowd, and because SS officers often used the space in front of the kitchen as a “hunting-ground” to injure... (full context)
Anti-Semitism and Dehumanization Theme Icon
Silence, Guilt, and Resistance Theme Icon
...each night. The guards there, who are railway police, are much less sadistic than the SS camp patrols. The Germans look on many of the overseers and foremen at the Railway... (full context)
Anti-Semitism and Dehumanization Theme Icon
...Jews are hanged, trampled, bitten by dogs, whipped, and humiliated for the amusement of the SS men. Many killed themselves in order to escape the brutality. (full context)
Anti-Semitism and Dehumanization Theme Icon
...than the Germans. The askaris were very interested in singing, even forming a band. The SS lieutenant, who had been a violinist before the war, was obsessed with the band.  To... (full context)
Anti-Semitism and Dehumanization Theme Icon
Silence, Guilt, and Resistance Theme Icon
The band begins to play, and the SS men insist that the prisoners march in time to the music. They are obscene songs,... (full context)
Forgiveness and Compassion Theme Icon
Silence, Guilt, and Resistance Theme Icon
The man tells Simon that his name is Karl, and that he joined the SS as a volunteer. Simon understands then that Karl could not be a Jew. Karl continues,... (full context)
Forgiveness and Compassion Theme Icon
Anti-Semitism and Dehumanization Theme Icon
Silence, Guilt, and Resistance Theme Icon
...his father rarely spoke to him. When the war broke out, Karl volunteered in the SS. His father was ardently opposed. He and the other volunteers had then been sent to... (full context)
Anti-Semitism and Dehumanization Theme Icon
...whom Germans viewed as useless because they could not work. While the adults labored, the SS rounded up the children and took them away. Adults built hiding places into their homes... (full context)
Anti-Semitism and Dehumanization Theme Icon
The SS Group Leader in charge of the Ghetto knew that a few children remained, and so... (full context)
Anti-Semitism and Dehumanization Theme Icon
...to the camp, Simon explains, they would be made to do exhausting exercises until the SS officer grew tired of his cruel joke. Or if a man were missing at roll... (full context)
Forgiveness and Compassion Theme Icon
Religion and Moral Truth Theme Icon
...talk to him after he had joined the Hitler Youth. When Karl volunteered for the SS, he went off to war without a word from his father. Karl’s father had been... (full context)
Silence, Guilt, and Resistance Theme Icon
...but had told Karl’s father that he was above suspicion because Karl was in the SS. Still, Karl’s mother affirms that he never did anything wrong. Simon does not contradict her,... (full context)
Arthur Hertzberg
Forgiveness and Compassion Theme Icon
...and his followers. Yet he still joined the Hitler Youth and then volunteered for the SS as a young person. (full context)
Lawrence L. Langer
Silence, Guilt, and Resistance Theme Icon
...failing to explain why he enthusiastically joined the Hitler Youth, why he volunteered for the SS, or why he pursued a career with a league of killers. Simon’s silence, on the... (full context)
Cynthia Ozick
Religion and Moral Truth Theme Icon
...education, and how this education should have prevented him from growing up to be an SS man, but it did not. She wonders whether worshiping a God in human form (i.e.,... (full context)
Joshua Rubenstein
Anti-Semitism and Dehumanization Theme Icon
...him, Simon’s encounter with Karl brings to mind an incident involving Heinrich Himmler, the Reichsführer SS and chief of the German police, in which he acknowledged how difficult it must be... (full context)
André Stein
Silence, Guilt, and Resistance Theme Icon
...by a nation of “good sons.” Karl’s parents are not guilt-free in his joining the SS, and Simon enabled Karl’s mother to continue living a lie. (full context)