Go Back   Discussions > Archive > Discussions > Facing History 2008-2009 > 2008-2009 Section 11 Wombat

Reply
 
Thread Tools
  #1  
Old 04-02-2009, 10:03
freemanjud freemanjud is offline
Moderator
 
Join Date: Oct 2000
Location: Boston, Massachusetts
Posts: 3,329
Wiesenthal's The Sunflower: A Question of Forgiveness and/or Justice (due Tue, Apr 7)

Simon Wiesenthal, as we learned from the film (based on his book The Sunflower), certainly had a dilemma. In the book version of his account, Wiesenthal asks:

Was my silence at the bedside of the dying Nazi right or wrong? This is a profound moral question that challenges the conscience of the reader of this episode, just as much as it once challenged my heart and mind. There are those who can appreciate my dilemma, and so endorse my attitude, and there are others who will be ready to condemn me for refusing to ease the last moment of a repentant murderer.

The crux of the matter is, of course, the question of forgiveness. Forgetting is something that time alone takes care of, but forgiveness is an act of volition, and only the sufferer is qualified to make the decision.

You...can mentally change places with me and ask yourself the crucial question, "What would I have done?"


Should Wiesenthal forgive or shouldn't he? There's most definitely an "on the one hand" and "on the other hand" argument to be raised here. And what kind of justice should be applied to a perpetrator like the German officer who confronted him? Had this perpetrator lived, what kind of justice would you have preferred, based on our exercise and discussion in class today.

So....
ē first I'd like you to post--pure and simple--on what you would have done had you been in Wiesenthalís shoes. A difficult question, to be certain, one that we discussed in class.
ē Then Iíd like you to comment on the response that I assigned you: one of the contributors to Wiesenthalís book. Consider this: is forgiveness an option as a way of coming to terms or at least reaching some peace with terrible events in our lives? Should/could Wiesenthal grant forgiveness? What do you think?
ē And finally, weigh in on the question of justice: what form of justice should have been applied, in an ideal world, for this sort of perpetrator?
__________________
Ms. Freeman

Last edited by freemanjud; 04-03-2009 at 14:40.
Reply With Quote
  #2  
Old 04-03-2009, 11:27
signewton signewton is offline
student
 
Join Date: Sep 2008
Posts: 26
I forgive youu.

If I was Wiesenthal then I would have forgiven the SS officer. Saying the words I forgive you cannot entirely relieve someone of their guilt. The SS officer knew what he did was wrong and that is why he needed to confess, but even with a Jew's forgiveness he would have to live with the fact that he was a murderer, a criminal. I would not be kind or compassionate however. I would remain silent as Wiesenthal had and as I walked out I would say I forgive you and then leave. Let the SS officer feel more guilt because I would have been the bigger person.

In the book I was assigned to read Lawrence Larson's response. In my opinion I do not agree with Larson, I mean I think he was talking a bunch of bull, to be honest. At first he said that he would not know what he would have done but then he went on and on talking about how he would never be able to forgive the SS officer. He was saying that someone that could do such a crime as killing the Jews off should does not deserve forgiveness. Then he went on about how he didn't even think the SS officer was truly sincere in his confession and apology because Wiesenthal was the one who recounted the story. I mean I must not be as critical but I really do think the SS officer felt bad and was sincerely apologizing. He would not have left some of his will to Wiesenthal if not.

I have not had the same experiences as someone in a concentration camp and I hope I will never have to but I can imagine that after such pain and suffering having the will power to apologize would be very hard. Wiesenthal could have apologized but I am not saying he should have. I am just saying that I would have, but I am not Wiesenthal. There really is no right or wrong way to approach this question/task. It's up to the person and obviously as seen in the book, so many people have different opinions.
Reply With Quote
  #3  
Old 04-05-2009, 16:23
midnightterror's Avatar
midnightterror midnightterror is offline
student
 
Join Date: Sep 2008
Posts: 41
Question another SS crybaby

"If I were in Wiesenthal's position," isn't a question I can answer in a 100% honest way, simply because I wasn't. I don't know what I would have done, even if I think I do. Until you are in a sticky situation and living in the actual moment discussed, you have no idea how you will react. Saying that you would have forgiven or not forgiven the SS officer is merely speculating what you THINK you would have done if you were faced with certain consequences. I completely agree with signewton. when they said,
Quote:
Originally Posted by signewton View Post
I have not had the same experiences as someone in a concentration camp and I hope I will never have to but I can imagine that after such pain and suffering having the will power to apologize would be very hard. Wiesenthal could have apologized but I am not saying he should have. There really is no right or wrong way to approach this question/task. It's up to the person and obviously as seen in the book, so many people have different opinions.
But back to the post. -- After considering this story and taking the entire situation into account, I THINK that if I were in Wiesenthal's shoes, I wouldn't have forgiven the SS officer. Wiesenthal was an oppressed, Jewish prisoner of a Nazi concentration camp. He, along with all of the other Holocaust survivors, witnessed horrific things done by the Nazis that I don't want to even begin to imagine. So if randomly I were Wiesenthal and I was pulled into a hospital room and asked for my forgiveness, I would spite the officer and leave. What would prompt me to even consider granting the dying criminal laying before me any last words of soothing peace? I would be angry and leave at once, for granting forgiveness would not be something I could honestly do or mean.

The account I read neither agreed or disagreed with Wiesenthal's approach to being asked for forgiveness. Mr. Locke said that he wouldn't have spoken in the situation at all, and that he would have let his lack of action and instigation of silence speak for itself. I agree with Locke on the fact that silence sometimes speaks louder than words, but I don't know if I were Wiesenthal would I have just stood there speechless. I'm not the type to just stand in a situation and conceal my opinions, but that's just me. If I were Wiesenthal I probably would have cried or screamed because dealing with a situation like this definately would have been extremely pressing on my emotions. A lot of the accounts however, did not adress whether or not forgiveness is an option to coming to terms with/reaching ultimate peace with terrible events. I don't know if granting the SS officer any forgiveness would have had a lasting affect or not. I think that he had done too much wrong for being involved with the Nazis to have his slate wiped clean with a questionably truthful apology. Again, I agree with signewton. Wiesenthal could have granted forgiveness, but that does not mean that he should have. That was up to him and he chose not to.

Ah, and the question of justice. I never can come to a complete agreement with my conscience on strong opinionated questions such as this one. "In an ideal world, what sort of justice should have been applied for this perpetrator?" I really don't know. I would suggest the death penalty, but then arises the question of whether or not granting death to murderers teaches any sort of moral lesson. I guess I think that all SS officers/people involved with the Nazis should have been jailed and sentenced to life in prison for their cowardly acts. In this way they could not escape their dark fates with quick, painless deaths. If they had life in prison, they would have to impatiently wait in dim cells with nothing to look forward to in the future.
Reply With Quote
  #4  
Old 04-05-2009, 16:33
warewolf11's Avatar
warewolf11 warewolf11 is offline
student
 
Join Date: Sep 2008
Posts: 58
Question So many options....

If I were in Weisenthalís shoes, I may not have forgiven the dying German. This is mainly due to the fact that I couldnít speak on behalf of the people who died, nor was I involved in the act the German committed, so how could I forgive him, on the behalf of all the Jews in Europe. On the other hand, it may have been a good gesture to ďfake itĒ, if I really wanted the man to die in peace, because he clearly had a desire to get this off his conscience. I may not have been pleased with the fact that I was called to his bedside to forgive him simply because I am a Jew, and speak on behalf of my people, over an incident. Faking it may provide him some peace, but for a normal person to clear a man of his sins is something that you donít get called on to do in normal circumstances, and it would be difficult to do so with sincerity.

The person I read about was a member of a Catholic-Jewish group, which focuses on reconciliation between the two religions. He stated that forgiveness is best put on hold, because the memory of the Holocaust is still fresh in peopleís minds, and it may be too soon to consider forgiveness. However, he stated that it is important to move towards reconciliation with one another, and patch up differences and feuds as best as possible. This is an important undertaking because the Holocaust is an example of how extreme people can be over differences in doctrine and custom, and is something that must be prevented as best as possible. On a more down-to-earth front, reconciliation is more longstanding than forgiveness, because it is a surer way of settling differences between people, and prevents any injury from being repeated a second time. Forgiveness is just for one incident, and that doesnít guarantee it from happening again. Reconciliation can put differences behind as well as an opportunity for people to understand each other, and ďstart freshĒ, whereas forgiveness canít really do that.

For the perpetrator of the murders that confessed to Weisenthal, he shouldíve gotten a lengthy sentence, had he lived. He did admit to it, which shows that there still was some good in him, yet he still killed dozens of innocent people in cold blood, which is heinous to say the least. Granting him life is an acknowledgement that he did indeed have a conscience, and that it was not immediately extinguished by his actions. By allowing him to stew for a while in confinement, he can look back on his life, and upon his release (if he gets one), he can use what he learned being by himself to amend his life, and atone for his actions with good deeds. This will help ensure that he can reform himself, and be a good person, and put his past actions behind him, and look to the future.
__________________
One thing you can take from a clock, it passes time by keeping its hands moving.
Reply With Quote
  #5  
Old 04-05-2009, 20:47
tomatotree's Avatar
tomatotree tomatotree is offline
student
 
Join Date: Sep 2008
Location: Boston
Posts: 20
Itís really difficult to even begin to imagine what it was like for Wiesenthal to have a Nazi ask him for forgiveness. He had been living in horrible conditions in a concentration camp, and out of nowhere, a dying Nazi asks him, a man he only knows as a Jew, to forgive him for the pain he caused Jews. I feel like I wouldíve been insulted to be singled out as just a random Jew, but thereís no way the Nazi could have asked for a specific individual. There is no way to know whether the Nazi was asking for forgiveness because he knew he was dying or because he really was sorry for what he did and wanted to make peace with it and move on. I feel like I would have forgiven the Nazi because there is the chance that he might have been sincere and genuinely sorry for his crimes. Not forgiving him would increase the chance of anger and resentment against all Nazis and Germans and there is always that chance that they didnít want to take part in what they did. Nazi Germany was obviously a very frightening place and when a group of bad people has so much power, I can understand why it wouldnít be dangerous to not go along with it. However, thatís just my point of view. I donít feel like Wiesenthal SHOULD have done something else. If he canít genuinely forgive the man, then he shouldnít force himself to try. Forgiveness isnít something you can just agree to do, you have to really mean it and believe in it and feel ready to make peace with someone and move on.

The response to Wiesenthalís question that I read came from a man who was once a Nazi who felt a lot of remorse for participating in the Holocaust. He didnít really answer the question or state his opinion on what he felt Wiesenthal should or should not have done. Instead, he described what a great man he was when he met him and how he was amazed to look into his eyes and not see any hatred while he was facing a Nazi.

Itís hard to give a punishment to the kind of man that Simon Wiesenthal met that day at the concentration camp. Thereís no way to actually know and verify how voluntary the crimes of a Nazi are and you canít measure his remorse for them either. I have no idea what kind of justice a man who was responsible of that kind of murder would deserve.
Reply With Quote
  #6  
Old 04-06-2009, 14:04
ImJustGreat ImJustGreat is offline
student
 
Join Date: Sep 2008
Posts: 29
I wish I could..

If I was put in the same position as Wiesenthal, I don't think I would have been able to forgive the Nazi soldier even though I would've wanted to. I feel that it's right to forgive people no matter how high the atrocity of their crime is. However, if I had been in the camp myself for years on end, something would've eaten away at my altruism.

I was assigned Martin Marty and he said that he would've liked to forgive the Nazi soldier because he thought that it would've allowed him to live more freely. This answers the question of whether or not forgiveness provides closure. I feel that forgiveness provides someone with closure because it allows for that person to move on. A grudge is something that follows you everywhere, not only as a grudge, but as a constant reminder of the event that you're clearly trying to forget. However, I think that Wiesenthal could not have given what he was asked for, simply because he was not the victim of the crimes of the particular Nazi soldier. He was rather a symbol of the Jews as a whole, and I feel that every Jew would've had their own opinion based on their own experiences.

I feel that the justice that should've been applied in an ideal world is life imprisonment. Though it might be natural for someone to say that they wanted the Nazi soldiers to die for what they did, I think that would be an insult to the victims. We'd like to think that the victims are going to be sympathetic towards the Nazi soldiers especially after what they have been through. I agree with midnightterror when he/she says that "In this way they could not escape their dark fates with quick, painless deaths. If they had life in prison, they would have to impatiently wait in dim cells with nothing to look forward to in the future."
Reply With Quote
  #7  
Old 04-06-2009, 14:23
HotShot11 HotShot11 is offline
student
 
Join Date: Sep 2008
Posts: 25
Sorry but I can't forgive you

I wouldnít have forgiven the SS officer for a few reasons. Apologizing to one Jew, a random one at that does not clear your name. What the officer did was horrific and I think it would have been hard for one of the people he did it to forgive him let alone a random Jewish person. One Jewish person does not speak for a community of them. Wiesenthal made the right decision by choosing not to speak for all Jews. I donít see how the SS officer would have died in peace by forgiving someone he didnít do anything to. If I was Wiesenthal Iíd be offended beyond belief at such a disrespectful act like that.

In the account I read, the man accidentally received a notice that said all Jews were to begin packing because they were going to be evacuated. The man saved many lives because of that list including his families. I think forgiveness is a way of coming to terms with bad things from the past but only to a certain extent. There is a point where that cuts off such as the crimes the Naziís committed. Saying ďsorryĒ will never bring back those who perished because of anotherís terrible actions.

If the SS soldier were to survive I think he should have been sentenced to life in prison. I feel the death sentence is too short a punishment after what he did. I feel that torture wouldnít be the right punishment because I donít think its right to commit the same crime. Instead he would have to spend the rest of his life in prison thinking about what he did. The worst part is that he volunteered to be an SS soldier and killed so many in cold blood. By the time he finally approaches death, hopefully he would have done some serious soul searching and repenting.
Reply With Quote
  #8  
Old 04-06-2009, 19:23
Mr.Anonymous's Avatar
Mr.Anonymous Mr.Anonymous is offline
student
 
Join Date: Sep 2008
Posts: 31
Had I been in Wiesenthal's shoes I am almost certain I would have done the same thing. Say nothing, show no signs of regret, and walk to the door. Then I would pause and wait. I would wait for him to beg me with every fiber of his being, beg with his last breaths for me to forgive all that he has done. All the people he's murdered and tortured. Then I would say "No." and walk out of the room, leaving the door open so that all could hear his weeping. As he cried his tears would cause the blood all over his face to run and his already ugly face would look more and more pitiful with ecah tear that rolled down his cheek. I would show no remorse for a man who showed none for other people because they weren't "fit to live". It would not have been difficult to look into the face of a man who made a choice to hurt rather than help. I say let him suffer in Hell.

Forgiveness is always an way for people to come to peace with themselves and their past so they can move on with a clear conscience. Wiesenthal did not have the privilege of granting forgiveness even if only for the sake of granting the bed ridden man a peaceful journey into death. He deserves all the excrutiating pain his injuries can do unto him because of the pain he has done onto those he slaughtered. It wouldnt have been right or morally ethical. It's as if I were a well known murderer of random people and I was about to get caught so while I'm running down the street I ask someone "Hey can you forgive me for killing so many people, it would be a big help and clear my conscience." That just isn't how it works.

In an ideal world, I would say that for this sort of perpetrator he should die the way his victims did. They should embarass him, parade him around naked, make him dig his own hole in the ground, then look inside it. If I were the one in charge of his punishment, I would make him look in the hole and whisper in his ear ever so softly "Do you see it? can you see yourself in it?" Then I would tell him to beg me not to shoot him in the face and watch him fall into his grave. I would relish the site of his situation, as his salty tears trickled down his face. I would laugh at him until I felt my sides hurting. Then finally I would tell him to run. Then right when I count down, three, two, one and he took just one step I would end his life. It would be a fitting end to someone who showed no mercy to people who had done nothing wrong.
Reply With Quote
  #9  
Old 04-06-2009, 19:44
goat123 goat123 is offline
student
 
Join Date: Sep 2008
Posts: 38
forgiveness.................

If I were in Mr. Wiesenthalís shoes, I would have donít the exact same thing, but differently. I wouldnít have granted him forgiveness, thatís for sure, but I would have given him a reason why, to let him know why it was so obscure in the first place for him to ask for forgiveness. I would solidify the fact that he would have never asked to be forgiven if he wasnít going to die; it would have been a completely different situation. The man doesnít deserve forgiveness, if he did, the story would have been presented in a different way.

On the other hand, it may have been a good gesture to ďfake itĒ, if I really wanted the man to die in peace, because he clearly had a desire to get this off his conscience.

-Warewolf11

I donít agree, simply because I consider forgiveness a very serious gesture, and ďfakingĒ it would be just as bad.

On to the next topic, the meaning of forgiveness. I agree with the fact that forgiveness is a way to come to terms with the problems in our lives, but it certainly depends on the situation. It you get hurt by a punch or something, you can forgive, but you canít forgive someone on behalf of your people in that type of situation. Itís just not acceptable. Wiesenthal did the right thing, despite the controversy that entailed it.

In terms of justice, the perpetrator was treated accordingly. He was cared for, and basically waited on until he perished. They knew he was going to die. In this day and age, I donít think it would have been much different. The fact that he had to lie there and literally wait for his death was punishment enough.
Reply With Quote
  #10  
Old 04-06-2009, 20:32
abcdefghijk123 abcdefghijk123 is offline
student
 
Join Date: Sep 2008
Location: Boston, MA
Posts: 32
Itís hard to say what I would have done. I might say I wouldíve done one thing, but actually being in the same situation during the same period Iím sure would add extra complications. However, what I can honestly say now is that I wouldíve forgiven the man. I wouldíve told him that my forgiveness could never make up for the crimes done and the lives he ended so cruelly, but I wouldíve forgiven him nonetheless and shown him a simple bit of grace before he died. In class people said that forgiving this man wouldíve lessened the worth and value of being forgiven because obviously I wouldnít have been a direct victim or family member of any of the people whose deaths he was responsible for. But at the same time I couldíve forgiven him simply as a person who was moved by his repentance, as one who wanted to grant this man a feeling of peace on his death bed. He was obviously in an awful lot of pain and every person has the chance to redeem themselves, even in their last minutes. However, as I said before, who knows if I would actually have been forgiving enough to really do this if it came down to it. Itís like the Holocaust itselfóweíll never know what it was really like without the direct experience of living through it.

I donít remember the name of the man whose response I read, but I do remember what he said he wouldíve done in this predicament. He said that he wouldíve told the man that he completely understood his participation in such a terrible era as Nazi run Germany. He wouldnít have forgiven the man, but wouldíve instead told him that he alone was not to blame for the lives taken but that he shared responsibility with everyone who participated in such cruel events. The author of the excerpt I read said that this man didnít deserve to be forgiven by just any Jew. And while his response isnít granting the man forgiveness, it is allowing for a certain feeling of peace before he died in knowing that what he did was not solely his crime, but that he shared the blame with thousands of other Nazis throughout Europe. I can understand this response, but I donít agree with the view that this man lying on his deathbed didnít deserve forgiveness. I believe that everyone deserves forgiveness, and that everyone can make a change in life for the better. And I say that from no religious view, itís just a personal view that every person is worthy of redemption, forgiveness, and love from those they have wronged. I canít say that Wiesenthal should have forgiven the man, but he definitely could have done so. Anyone is capable of forgiving, it just depends on the person. However I also think that Wiesenthalís choice to say nothing at all is perfectly understandable and I would not say he should change the way in which he chose to respond. Clearly at the time he did not have it in his heart or his mind to forgive the man, and his reaction is fully justifiable.

Itís also difficult to think of what sort of justice/punishment the man shouldíve received in a perfect world. I donít like to think of forms of punishment, but obviously the man shouldnít have just been allowed to live life like he had done nothing wrong. I honestly canít really answer this questionómaybe he shouldíve done time in jail or something, but I donít think he should have been killed or jailed indefinitely since he was, after all, repenting and asking forgiveness for his crimes. The question of justice is in essence quite similar to this question of forgiveness. It simply depends on the degree of mercy that one is willing to grant a man for his wrongs.
Reply With Quote
  #11  
Old 04-06-2009, 21:21
monkeybars819 monkeybars819 is offline
student
 
Join Date: Sep 2008
Location: Boston
Posts: 24
Forgive and Forget?

This is probably one of the hardest question I have ever been asked. I'm still a bit confused and unsure of what I would have done if I was Wiesenthal at that exact moment, but for the most part I don't think I would have forgiven the officer.
I know that forgiving is "being the bigger person," or at least its supposed to be. But if I had forgiven the officer it would be like saying that everything he had done was okay. Maybe I would live with it forever in my conscious like Wiesenthal, but I feel like it would feel even worse knowing I forgave a person as cruel and heartless as the SS officers.
I agree completely with goat123 and Mr.Anonymous: "Had I been in Wiesenthal's shoes I am almost certain I would have done the same thing. Say nothing, show no signs of regret, and walk to the door. Then I would pause and wait. I would wait for him to beg me with every fiber of his being, beg with his last breaths for me to forgive all that he has done. All the people he's murdered and tortured. Then I would say "No." and walk out of the room, leaving the door open so that all could hear his weeping."
I also have to disagree with ImJustGreat when they say "I feel that it's right to forgive people no matter how high the atrocity of their crime is." I think somethings are unforgivable, and the Holocaust is definitely one of those things.

The letter I was assigned to read in the book mainly touched upon the fact that God is the only one in the position to grant forgiveness. He also said that asking a random Jew for forgiveness was not the way to do it- although the understands that perhaps it was the only way for the officer. Basically it just said that judgement should be left up to God, and God only.


When asked what sort of justice should be applied to this sort of perpetrator, I feel like the only thing fit would be to do the same to them as they did to their victims. Starve them, beat them, strip them of every posession and of everything/everyone they love. To be as cruel and cold hearted as they themselves were, to perform brutal experiments on them. Obviously this is unrealistic, it wouldn't solve the problem and it would just sink us down to their level. So I feel like a long lonely, sad life in a dark prison would do it. Although I do think most of these people aren't even worthy of their lives, I think they should be forced to suffer instead of being put to death.
Reply With Quote
  #12  
Old 04-06-2009, 21:32
LACUATRO LACUATRO is offline
student
 
Join Date: Sep 2008
Posts: 28
??

It is really hard to answer this question, especially because one doesnít know the exact feeling of both these men. For me it wouldíve been ridiculously hard to forgive the SS Officer but I agree with signewton:

ďIf I was Wiesenthal then I would have forgiven the SS officer. Saying the words I forgive you cannot entirely relieve someone of their guilt. The SS officer knew what he did was wrong and that is why he needed to confess, but even with a Jew's forgiveness he would have to live with the fact that he was a murderer, a criminal.Ē

Hearing from an officer that he was sincerely sorry for what he had done to someone (the children etc.) would have moved me just a little. I would still be mad because with or without my forgiveness, who knows what wouldíve happened to me. I was going to go back to reality to the concentration camp and hopefully live longer than expected. Although I understand that the officer didnít do anything against me specifically like warewolf11 says,

ďThis is mainly due to the fact that I couldnít speak on behalf of the people who died, nor was I involved in the act the German committed, so how could I forgive him, on the behalf of all the Jews in Europe.Ē

I still would have thought of forgiving him, but I would have stayed in the same state as Weisenthal, quiet.

In class I was assigned to read this ladyís response to Weisenthals story, Elizabeth. She herself couldnít really answer the question. All she did in her response was talk about either side, if he did and if he didnít forgive the SS Officer. From reading her response though, I did gain something. If I was Wiesanthal like I said before, I would have felt a little better and would have gotten a little bit of hope about getting out of this mess. This is because I would think that like this SS Officer there must be other Germans that knew the wrongs that was going on, and maybe even Germans who werenít actually doing any of these atrocities.
Reply With Quote
  #13  
Old 04-06-2009, 21:34
ForAllTimes ForAllTimes is offline
student
 
Join Date: Sep 2008
Posts: 27
To forgive or not

I think this is the hardest problem we, as humans, will come upon - the idea of forgiving someone who have wronged you. (Especially one who committed such heinous crimes). As Monkeybars819 said, I too disagree with ImJustGreat when he said that "I feel that it's right to forgive people no matter how high the atrocity of their crime is." I think that it's great that someone can forgive another for crimes that they committed, but I personally cannot do that.

Personally, I am someone who cannot forgive someone who can take the live of another living being away. I will let the "forgiving" part be left to God and the priests, or someone who thinks differently from me. I was going to say someone who is stronger than me, for i really think that being able to forgive someone is an inner strength, and I commend anyone who is able to do that. In Wiesenthal's case, I believe that he did the right thing, by keeping silent, especially since he himself was unsure if he was able to forgive someone. I think you should tell the person that s/he is forgiven only if you are 100% certain, and without a doubt. If there is a slight chance that you do not truly forgive them, and tell them that they are, you are not only lieing to yourself, but disrespecting the other person in return (even if that person committed atrocious crimes - it's not good to disrespect another person). Actually, this may sound very contradicting to my earlier statements, but if you are going to forgive someone, than do it with a pure heart. Do not forgive them if it will "make you feel better" about yourself because you are the "better" person in the situation. However, saying that you do not forgive the person when he is in his death bed is also a heavy blow on the conscience, so like i said before, it is best to remain silent and let the person interpret it the way they want. i guess.
Reply With Quote
  #14  
Old 04-06-2009, 22:08
bydegrees bydegrees is offline
student
 
Join Date: Sep 2008
Location: Boston, MA
Posts: 32
ForAllTimes, I completely agree with you. I find it really hard to forgive someone, and I donít believe in saying things that I donít mean just to make them feel better. It was brought up in class that it takes a lot of strength to forgive, and I guess I donít have that strength. When I saw the film, I felt that what Wiesenthal did was right, especially in his shoes. Yes, he could have forgiven the man and given him a few moments of peace before he did, but thatís not the point. I donít believe that one Jew can stand for countless ones. And even so, itís really demeaning for that dying man to use him for that purpose.

If I had been in Wiesenthalís shoes, I probably would have done the same thing. I donít think I could have forgiven the man, and if I said it, I would not have meant a word of it. I guess that if I truly felt forgiveness, I would tell him so, but I couldnít stand in the place for hundreds that he killed. And the fact that the soldier recounted gory details to me about my people and asked me to forgive himÖI couldnít do that. Maybe some people can find more closure in the sense of forgiveness, but yes, sometimes, you just have to leave that to the higher powers.

I guess that forgiveness ca be an option if one wants to come to terms with reaching peace with all the terrible things that happened in our lives. But then again, I ask myself: who is reaching the peace? Is it me? Or is it the other person? Both parties? I think itís a bit of both. The dying volunteer definitely wanted peace, and I think that the strength that it takes to overcome these terrible things and find forgiveness reaches down in the humanity of us all. It just makes us think that weíre all bound by the same flesh, and when we find that peace within ourselves, I think it brings us some degree of peace. But nevertheless, it doesnít change the situation. People still know of the pain, and living with it every day is difficult.

I donít think Wiesenthal could have granted forgiveness, especially in the situation he was in. He was really surrounded by dying people all the time. And I donít think it was up to him to give the forgiveness. Ideally, everyone should forgive one another, but thatís just not how everything works.

As to the form of justice that should apply to the real world, I donít want to get into the gory details. Maybe the perpetrator should have been forced to die hundreds of times over for the people he killed. Maybe he should be tortured, or never find peace. I am even more appalled at his attempt to find a quick fix to peaceÖI want to punish him for that presumptuous thought alone.
Reply With Quote
  #15  
Old 04-06-2009, 22:52
prettypasta prettypasta is offline
student
 
Join Date: Sep 2008
Posts: 32
Like others have said, forgiving an SS officer would be hard enough but being pulled out of a concentration camp because the officer requested a Jew makes it that much more difficult. I do not think I would be able to forgive the man, and I don't think it would be right to forgive him just because he was dying.

I really liked the response that I read because I think it summed up my feelings better than I ever could have. It said that if an individual, such as the SS officer really wanted forgiveness he would have to be truly sorry and make a promise to himself that he was going to change and leave the old person that he was behind. Then it was only up to God to grant the man forgiveness, not any other person. If a person wants to forgive someone else it is for themselves because they are saying that the person no longer has a hold on them and that they were free but that the offender was still chained to what they had done. I think that forgiveness is a way to deal with horrible things, so if Wiesenthal was able to grant forgiveness that would have been good for him. But he should only do so if he wanted to.

I don't really know what kind of punishment the officer should have had. He did seem like he was sorry, and like he didn't really know what he was getting into when he joined the Nazis. We've seen all the propaganda and videos like Triumph of the Will make it easy to see how someone could be drawn into that. I do think he should receive some sort of punishment whether it be jail time or some other form.
Reply With Quote
  #16  
Old 04-06-2009, 23:17
MollyButAMan's Avatar
MollyButAMan MollyButAMan is offline
student
 
Join Date: Sep 2008
Posts: 30
First and foremost, I too would not have forgiven the dying Nazi. Even in his final plea, he still upheld the Nazi ideals. They promoted the idea that all Jews are the same, that they are all the same scourge upon the land, and in asking for any old Jew, just furthered this idea. Not only would I have not forgiven him, I would have gotten angry. Here is a dying man trying to seek forgiveness that he doesn't even deserve, nor that can be given, and yet he's still pushing Nazi beliefs on him. So, as a direct answer, I would have blatantly said that I not only don't forgive him, but I'm in no place to give it anyways.

In the situation put forth by the dying SS officer, Wiesenthal was in no position to give forgiveness, and he did the only real thing he could have done, which was walk out. Sure, you can give forgiveness to give someone peace of mind, but that SS officer had no right to have any peace of mind. No matter how he feels, he still threw that grenade into that house filled with innocent people. He didn't have to do it, but he did anyways. His disregard for others should result in people disregarding him.

As to what should be done to the SS officer, there are a lot of things I'd like to do to them, but it simply would not please the rest of the world. If the Nazi in question shows no signs of regret and says that he still believes in Nazi ideals, and confesses to a number of murders, then he deserves death. I DO NOT support capitalistic punishments, except for this case. If the Nazi says he regrets his actions, but still did them, then they should go on probation for at least 20 years, where the government keeps a close eye on them, and if they break any law, or even commit/convicted of a hate crime, then they should get life in prison. If there is an ex-Nazi who says he was a protester, and has witnesses who can vouch for him, and they can only be seen as innocent, then they should receive no punishment.
Reply With Quote
  #17  
Old 04-06-2009, 23:34
somnus somnus is offline
student
 
Join Date: Sep 2008
Location: Boston, Ma
Posts: 36
drooping sunflowers

Personally, I think Wiesenthal did the right thing by just walking away. Being in the position of having family members, relations, friends, all being carried off, degraded and eventually slaughtered is a hard thing to forgive. Even if it was only one person that aided in the process, I donít think Wiesenthal could have forgiven him, because he had not the word of every single Jew, nevertheless, he probably had little relation to those the SS officer had killed. Mentally, I do not believe I would be able to forgive the SS officer, even through empty words.

Quote:
Originally Posted by warewolf11 View Post
The person I read about was a member of a Catholic-Jewish group, which focuses on reconciliation between the two religions. He stated that forgiveness is best put on hold, because the memory of the Holocaust is still fresh in peopleís minds, and it may be too soon to consider forgiveness. However, he stated that it is important to move towards reconciliation with one another, and patch up differences and feuds as best as possible.
However, I believe this to be true. Even though I could not have forgiven him on his death bed, I would probably had accepted that he was truly sorry after some time, since having the burden of thinking whether or not really should have forgiven him is a hard thing to hold. I believe Wiesenthal felt the same way when he later visited the soldierís relative and recognized that he was sincere.

The personís response I had read had a similar outlook as mine in the first paragraph. He saw that he couldnít forgive the man as he could not have spoken on behalf of all the Jews that were persecuted. He also said that leaving without a word was probably the best thing to do. This is something I agree with, because sometimes, recognition of the problem and having it left alone is a stronger message than anything else.

I believe that this is a question of time. Right then and there, I am sure that most people would deny his forgiveness outright; but overtime, when worldviews change, there can be some forgiveness, but only after the recognition of the problems and atrocities. I believe that people cannot live with a heavy conscience and that there are times that people have to let go, whether it be for the death of a loved one or a grudge on an enemy.
I believe that the people that committed these horrible atrocities should have their life taken. This is a hard thing to say, but upon so many murders, I believe that the perpetrator should face it as well. However I would like to believe that these people would have recognized what they have done before they eventually die.
__________________
-Somnus

What if you were unable to wake from that dream? How would you know the difference between the dream world and the real world? ~Morpheus
Reply With Quote
  #18  
Old 04-07-2009, 00:12
KatrinaBubbles KatrinaBubbles is offline
student
 
Join Date: Sep 2008
Location: Boston, MA
Posts: 34
A different swing of things

I have to disagree with many posters, and agree with very few. I would have forgiven the SS officer. He doesnít deserve to be forgiven for the acts that he committedóI think itís completely fair that he wasnít given ďpeaceĒ and that so many people agree with Wiesenthalís decision. I would forgive him for a different reason. Itís not because of the Catholic vs. Jewish look on forgiveness in Godís eyes or whatever (though that is a really interesting theory that I had never heard before). Honestly, no matter how weird and out of place this may sound, I would not have been able to live with myself had I not forgiven him. And itís not because I would be looking back on it years later wondering if I did the right thing. I think the right thing would be refusing the forgiveness. It has nothing to do with it.

In one of the accounts I read, a prisoner of the Khmer Rouge spoke of how he was afraid that he would never be forgiven if he couldnít forgive. He then went on to talk about how he could forgive the scared, brain-washed minions that actually did the physical killing but no the men behind it with the puppet strings. That makes sense but it also isnít my thought process. Forgiving this Nazi would make me feel better. I know that sounds bizarre even to me but forgiveness, itís kind of like releasing something within yourself that had been weighing you down. I would hate to have been given the chance to forgive someone and never taking it. I donít agree with warewolf11ís comment about ďfaking itĒ because that doesnít count. If anyone has ever gotten in a fight where it most likely was the other personís fault and then you walk away, it feels horrible, especially if you were realty close to that person. You carry your unwillingness to forgive them around with you and it just festers and festers until it overflows into this huge mound of rage. I would hate to be living in this constant state of hatred and fear and anger. I would never be at rest with myself if I didnít forgive the SS man, no matter how much he deserved it. And maybe I didnít have the right to forgive him, maybe it wasnít my place. But I wouldnít be able to walk away and not carry with me for the rest of my life the heaviness of a guilt-ridden conscience, the self-resentment. And I honestly donít think that apology would have done much for him anyway. He still would have suffered whether you believe in hell or not. He would be punishing himself.
Reply With Quote
  #19  
Old 04-07-2009, 00:46
esperanza esperanza is offline
student
 
Join Date: Sep 2008
Posts: 28
Arrow

I'd like to believe that if I were in Wiesenthal's shoes, I would forgive the man. I would have liked to, because I do believe that would have been the right thing to do, but I don't know. I don't condemn Wiesenthal for not forgiving him, but I wonder if he would keep wondering after all these years if he had. The truth is, though, that I haven't suffered. I don't know what it is like to be homeless, to be starving, to live in fear, to watch people die, to live without my family, to not know who is alive and who isn't. I haven't seen the brutalities of war, the death, the rape, or torture. I simply don't know what it's like. For that reason, I can hardly begin to put myself in his shoes, and I definitely can't say what he should have done. We are differnt people and think differently.

I think that to forgive you have to be at peace with yourself, and not hold grudges against or hate those you are trying to forgive. Personally, this is why I'd like to think I would forgive the soldier: I am not angry. Throughout all we've seen and done in this class, I've just been immensely affected. It makes me truly sad to see anybody suffer, especially the innocent, but I cannot hate the perpetrators. I don't think that solves anything or makes anything better, and it would just make me feel worse. Its not that I would pretend to forgive, its that I would forgive. If not, I would probably live with that on my conscience, maybe like Wiesenthal.

In class I read Primo Levi's response. He agreed with Wiesenthal's actions, and raised a good point in saying that the soldier only called a "Jew" because he was on his deathbed. Thinking about it though, I think the soldier was truly sorry. But again, he was at Auschwitz, I was not.

Justice could make things better, but when people have been hurt, I think that the natural instinct is to retaliate, which could make the situation worse. Also, who would choose what justice is?It is definitely something to keep thinking about.
Reply With Quote
  #20  
Old 04-07-2009, 09:20
rizzos2525 rizzos2525 is offline
student
 
Join Date: Sep 2008
Posts: 27
I think Wiesenthal did the right thing in not forgiving the Nazi soldier because it wasn't right of him to forgive for something that didn't even affect him personally. Eventhough it seems to haunt him to this day I think that Wiesenthal did the right thing, what if the people that he did harm wouldn't or would have forgiven him, we will never know but either way it's not his forgiveness to give. The soldier seemed to only repent because he knew he was about to die, I keep thinking that if he wasn;t dying that he most likely would have continued to kill more and more Jews, so was he really sorry? I don't know but it always seems funny to me how when you're about to die you seem to all of a sudden be sorry about all the bad things you've done because you're scared about what's going to happen to you in the unknown.

I would not have forgiven him just because I feel that I am a stubborn person in general so for someone to think that he can all of a sudden be okay with all the people he just killed by apoligizing to one Jew that wasn't even a part of it just seems insulting. I would not have apoligized because I don't think that someone who did all those things deserves and apology, for whatever reasons he did what he did, he made a choice and now he basically has to live with them.

It's a very hard question to answer as to what justice do these people deserve because I think there is a consencus that they do deserve some form of punishment, but I don't know what. The death sentence or life in prison would probably be the ones that some people might think that they deserve and in a way I agree but yet again we would just be as bad as them in the end. This will probably be something that will be discussed for a while until they figure out what will be considered fair to them, but it probably won't be considered to other people.
Reply With Quote
Reply

Thread Tools

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off

Forum Jump


All times are GMT -3. The time now is 19:18.


Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.8
Copyright ©2000 - 2014, vBulletin Solutions, Inc.
Copyright 2000-2011 learntoquestion.com All Rights Reserved.