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Old 03-27-2002, 06:56
jcrane jcrane is offline
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The Sunflower -the symposium

Please read three of the responses to the novella, "The Sunflower" by Simon Wiesenthal. For each of the responses write a one paragraph response. This should focus on some aspect of the writer's response - not simply an "I agree" or "I disagree" or "as I wrote in my first posting."

Do not mix your comments in one big paragraph, but for each writer, give their name and then comment on their entry.
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Old 04-01-2002, 11:29
manas manas is offline
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Herbert Marcuse says Wiesenthal should not have forgiven the soldier because it perpetuates the crime. I do not agree with Herbert’s view completely because in this case the entire government was promoting evil, and the people were brainwashed. Karl besides was a growing up child and comprehended the propaganda from a very early age. If there is no forgiveness then the world would have been in a perpetual state of war. Arabs and Catholics would have been fighting since; Crusaders had killed all the Muslims of Jerusalem when they took it. Look at the Palestinian conflict where Palestinian suicides are blowing up almost everyday. American Indians could have been doing that too because Americans annexed their lands.

I agree with the view of Archbishop of Vienna, Cardinal Franz Konig. It is correct that, “the dying man somehow felt accepted by you; otherwise he would not have bequeathed you his personal belongings.” He does not speak forthright, rather with Psalms and Gospels. I did not understand completely whether he would not forgiven or not, but I think means the former.

Dalai Lama writes very clearly and concisely and uses good examples. It is helpful that he uses his own experience as an example, the Tibet conflict. He says well that in those kinds of situations it is easy to condemn the Chinese or the Germans for their brutality and “dismiss them as unworthy of further thought or consideration.” One should always consider the opposite perspective, in this case the Germans or Chinese. A Tibetan monk knew that well who said that after sitting 15 years in a Chinese prison he fears “loosing compassion for the Chinese.”

In general it seems like religious people are more toward confession and most others are against.
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Old 04-01-2002, 11:52
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Herbert Marcuse
I disagree with this person. Forgiveness is necessary, almost as much as remembrance. Forgiving a person of their crimes doesn’t add to the crime. This person has a distorted idea of real forgiveness. This distortion probably comes from the fact that ‘sorry’ and ‘I forgive you’ are used so superficially most of the time. People use both at times when they don’t mean it. Real forgiveness is different and necessary for healing of the conscience.

Dith Pran
I agree with this person that we must separate the people who were forced to do things that they didn't like and the people who did them voluntarily or ordered them to be done. The SS man is one of the later. Even though he was disturbed about the acts he did, he didn’t refuse or stop doing them. This is added upon the fact that the soldiers who did weren’t harmed in any way.

Nechama Tec
I agree with this person that the dying SS man did seem self centered and doesn’t care about the fact that his confession will add more stress on Simon. The fact that the man wanted to confess to a Jew, thereby adding to the Jew’s problems instead of doing something that would help the Jews still alive shows how insensitive he is.
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Old 04-07-2002, 10:15
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The Dalai Lama- I thought the Dalai Lamas response was extremely interesting. To me it represented the very essence of Buddhism, which I feel many elements of would be required in the building of Utopia. Yet, in the end, i do agree that forgiveness perpetuates the crime. In a world were not everybody is as saintly as the Buddhist monks, the view taken on by the Dalai Lama become idealistic, and therefore simplistic. Though I have a great respect and even admiration for the view taken by the dalai Lama, I cannot honestly say that I agree.

Herbert Marcuse- I thoroughly agreed with what herbert Marcuse had to say. Indeed, forgiveness perpetuates the crime. However, failing to forgive does not mean that an eternal feud between Jews and germans would ensue. As someone said, I cannot ever forgive those Germans that did this to us, but the young ones of today, I have nothing against. To forgive the guilty would be simplism and in essence a condoning of the crime, but the children of the guilty must not be held accountable.

Dith Pran- I felt the view of Mr. Pran to be in accordance with my own. He does not forgive the Khmer Rouge, nor has he considered this as even a remotely viable option. Yet, to reinforce my earlier points, I doubt he holds a grudge against the children of the Khmer Rouge.
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Old 04-10-2002, 15:12
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Question

Like many others, I assume, I wish to discus the thoughts from the Dalai Lama. I found this being one of the few names I recognized of the bat and therefore read it first, I had my opinions on what to expect and am shamefully quite cynical about the ideals of Buddhism. After reading the thoughts of the Dalai Lama though I can say I was sincerely touched by the ideals him and his religion sustain. To me it was extraordinary because the Tibetan did experience a certain amount of oppression, which one should not compare to the holocaust but I belief that is makes the statement more honest and meaningful than that of a naive person. The fact is that yes one should forgive no matter what but there is a fine line in what one should and what one can and nobody has the right to forgive somebody for the atrocities caused to an entire race of people,


--One can only forgive for that which is directly done unto them--

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Next I found myself searching for the point of view of a female...Mary Gordon was a view I found quite intriguing. Mary Gordon basically stated in her argument what I think, it is not possible nor right for a person to forgive for a race, no matter whether that person is a member of that race or not. I myself being Mormon be birth and family but myself questioning and not believing it might possibly face this problem if a participant in a mob or a relative of a mob from one of the many times attacks occurred upon Mormons all over the world asked me for forgiveness. I myself in comparison to Wiesenthal’s story was once I religiously discriminated, not to say near to the extent and I wish not to go into details but I was. IN this sense since we both in no way are extreme believers in the faith cannot possibly be representatives and simply give out forgiveness for that which was done to our religion or race. He can only forgive for what the Nazis have done to him, not what they have done to all the Jews, similarly I can only forgive the men who persecuted me not those who persecuted other Mormons. This all leads me back into my statement earlier, I think that Mary Gordon shows this very well in her views as well.

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Cynthia Ozick was the next I read and I found myself once again viewing a religious point of view. I thought Ms. Ozicks statement was very extreme to me and I found myself shocked by the ending, although me and my friends debated the topic of forgiveness in the sunflower and I have read and heard many statements against the forgiveness of the SS man, feeling that way myself, MS> Ozicks statement at the end still shook me

Let the SS man die unshriven.
Let him go to hell.
Sooner the fly to God than he.

I am not a very religious person in my life at this point and am very much rebelling against my involved organization but I do feel that from a moral point of view forgiveness and understanding is what we need more of in this world. After watching more and more of the events occurring in the middle east I witnessed interesting opinions from a group of combined Israeli and Palestinian teenagers who want the violence to end. It was touching to see a significant amount of people who have so many differences in them for so many generations come together and say "lets forgive, lets break the cycle" and I myself honor these teenagers for voicing there opinions and I feel that religious personages who go out and speak for there entire people that they are not willing to forgive ever is wrong because it is doing the exact opposite of a Jew forgiving a holocaust perpetrator for the entire race, religion and people...

I would also like to say that I was intrigued by the postings of other students in both classes; I am honored to be in a class which has such a high work ethic...
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Old 04-11-2002, 15:29
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I might not agree with The Dali Lama, but I can understand his views do to his beliefs. He even states it is not the Buddhist way to condemn his enemies without consideration. I respect his ideas and understand why he would forgive the Soldier. One thing I do agree with is that we might be able to forgive, but we should never ever forget what has happened to make sure it will never re-occur.

Although Mary Gordon’s views reveal some clever things I agree with, I don’t full agree with her. I feel that it was wrong for the SS soldier to expect Wiesenthal to forgive him for his crimes towards others and expect him to decide on behalf of the Jewish people. What I don’t agree with is that the Soldier was looking for forgiveness just to forget his crimes. I think the soldier was so deeply scarred by his crimes that he could never forget what he had done.

I feel that Dith Pran’s comments are very interesting and his thoughts are very similar to my own. He feels the leaders are the main perpetrators and many times the soldiers are “trapped”. Although he could have forgiven many of the soldiers he could never have forgotten, which is very important. Having been a survivor of the “Cambodian killing fields” he has gone through enough to be able to properly relate to Wiesenthal’s situation. Pran elegantly states that the driving forces behind the atrocities come from the leaders more then the soldier, which I totally agree with.
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Old 04-11-2002, 15:51
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Theodore M. Hesburgh
He argues that he has to forgive him as a monk. Sure he has to, but in his thinking, he, for sure, did not forgive him. A monk has to forgive the people but as a human being, he cannot. It would be unusual that any kind of human would forgive an SS man who killed many people because he wanted it so and now after he had done that, he wants forgiveness because the war is over.

Susannah Heschel
Argues that she cannot forgive him because the Nazis have destroyed normal lives of people that have not done anything to them. Also many Nazis who had high positions under the Nazi regime had then, after the war also high positions because they denied that they were Nazis. She also says that the Nazis did not fight against humanity, they made Germany an iron cage which was also a threat to the other Germans in the country.

Albert Speer
He says that all the Nazis got what they were supposed to be. He is also sorry for what he has done under the Nazi regime. He also wrote that nobody is bound to forgive, which is absolutely true.
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Old 04-11-2002, 16:30
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Albert Speer-
I found it very interesting to read about the response of an SS soldier, to see what they would've thought of the situation. He points out something very interesting in my mind that I hadn't considered when reading The Sunflower, self-forgiveness. I hadn't actually pondered if the SS man had forgiven himself, which should be the first thing to ask yourself. As Speer articulated it, if you cannot forgive yourself, how can you expect others to?

Dorothee Soelle-
I agreed a lot with what Soelle had to say. "Everywhere, one senses the no, and the necessity of finding a yes." This sentence I found very important because not only does it summarize Soelle's feeling towards the novella, it also conveys Wiesenthal's emotions throughout his story. It was also interesting to read about her personal experience concerning forgiveness. Her awkwardness in her personal situation sounds similar to Wiesenthal's when listening to the dying man's confession.
I also valued her opinion because she was objective towards the situation. I found that her opinion wasn't straightforward, that she could've answered either or, which agrees as to what I said.

Matthieu Ricard-
I found his opinion very different from the other two that I have read. His view of forgiveness has a very endearing outlook on the situation. It is hard for me to agree with him because my response isn't at all attached to religion, whereas his response is completely religious. I look with a complete respect that he could very openly forgive the SS man that committed such a crime. It's very inspiring to think that people can still have such compassion and be able to think as this man does. Even if I do have such reverence for his opinion, I don't think that I could've forgiven so easily, if at all.
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Old 04-11-2002, 17:02
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Yossi Klein Halevi writes that Wiesenthal’s encounter with the dying Karl is beyond our understanding and judgment. I support this because I truly believe that a person cannot judge another person until he/she is in the same situation. Halevi writes that to judge Wiesenthal is to “repeat a mistake that of those who did not experience the Holocaust but who readily condemned its survivors for not resist or supposedly collaborating, for remaining alive.” I think this is a good comparison because people who had no idea what it is to live in camps and in the horror of the Holocaust cannot judge the decisions that people had made during the Holocaust. I do not fully understand the comparison between the celebration and happiness in Israel after the six-day war and the happiness that should have been after the fall of Berlin wall.

Theodore M. Hesburgh, is a priest, and he writes that his instinct is to forgive. He believes of God as the great forgiver, and that he would forgive “not from his own small position but as a surrogate for our almighty and all forgiving God”. I strongly disagree with this point of view, because first, if God were the one who needs to forgive, Karl would pray to God for his forgiveness, and would not be eager to talk to a Jew. Secondly, when one decides to forgive, it is a very personal thing to do, and even God should not be involved in such thing.

Mary Gordon writes several things that I agree to, but one thing I do not. She puts the concept of forgiving as equal to forgetting, which I think are two very different things. When one forgives it does not necessarily mean one needs to forget. It might be the opposite, when one forgive, he will remember it strongly.


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Old 04-11-2002, 18:06
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Jean Amery
I really agree with his comment how that if the soldier does want forgiveness, and if it matters to him, he’ll give it, but politically, it doesn’t make any difference. Wiesenthal could have given the dying SS soldier his forgiveness, but he wouldn’t have undone all the harm that has already been done, and wouldn’t have prevented what’s happening and would happen. He can forgive/ not forgive all he wants, but it wouldn’t really make a difference for anyone. The soldier would die, and Wiesenthal would for the rest of his life question his decision.
Rodger Kamenetz
I strongly agree with this mans opinion. The soldier did view Wiesenthal as the whole Jewish, the race, and indeed didn’t view him as a person, but as a Jew, and like Rodger says, not
a Jew, and individual, but just a Jew. And it is true that any Jew would do for the soldier, since he in a way felt them to be all the same, and Wiesenthal was picked at random. And to a certain extent I agree that the soldier didn’t fully respect Wiesenthal, even though he did regret what he has done. So even though he was asking for forgiveness, and realized that Jews shouldn’t have suffered, he still was sort of anti-Semitic, by seeing Simon as a Jew, not as a person.
The Dalai Lama
I wasn’t surprised that the Dalai Lama would have forgiven the SS soldier, because when I saw that he was one of the people to comment, I thought to myself that he would have forgiven, because he is The Dalai Lama. I think that the world needs people like that, because if everyone was to be unforgivable, then there would be more crime. The thing I’m wondering about though, is whether he said he’d forgive because he’s Dalai Lama, or because he really thinks so. Wouldn’t it be surprising if he didn’t forgive? But if he really would forgive, then that is merely his opinion, just as any one of us, and he would probably feel very good about it, because I would say that most of us feel nice when doing something nice for someone else. And I also strongly agree that EVEN if someone is forgiven for all the atrocities done, they should definitely never be forgotten.
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Old 04-12-2002, 05:58
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Dalai Lama
Although I didn’t completely agree to Dalai Lama’s view, I found it extremely interesting. His comment shows the typical Buddhist point of view, where everyone should forgive everyone. But I have the feeling that he is leaving out a very significant factor in forgiving someone, which is the emotional factors. To lose typical emotions towards someone is quite hard unless it is someone devoted to Buddhism like the Dalai Lama. Karl’s and the Nazis’ sins can be forgiven externally, but they will be never forgiven in the minds of Jews and survivors of the Holocaust. Jewish people would feel slight anger to say the least when the terms Holocaust and Nazism are brought up. One cannot force one another to forgive someone else when such atrocities have been made. But I do agree on his argument partially, which says “Such atrocities should not be forgotten so that humanity does not make the same mistake again.”

Eugene J. Fisher
I agreed to Fisher’s comments. It may be because I shared the same Christian view as him, but his arguments are highly logical. It might sound as if I am contradicting myself, but it might be easier for the Jewish committee around the world to at least start forgiving the sins made by the Aryans as the world is globalizing. I am not saying that they must, but I am saying that it would make things much easier for the Jews because it would decrease ethnical conflicts. But again, as Fisher said, Christians have actually no right to ask the Jews to forgive them. Not only is it victimizing the Jews further, but it is a sign of forgetting the vile deeds the Christians have committed, and therefore disrespecting both God, humanity and the Jews. Christians should make official apologies through their leaders and just wait for the forgiving of the Jews, if Christians want to be forgiven.

Edward H. Flannery
I disagreed to Flannery as he said one should always forgive according to the Bible. But I agreed that Wiesenthal was not in the place to represent the whole Jewish committee, but the scene where Karl was pleading for forgiveness was rather interpersonal. If Simon Wiesenthal was to represent every Jew, he would be officially stating that he will forgive the Nazis. This statement gave me a whole new view about whether Simon could have forgiven Karl. Because Simon wasn’t speaking in the place of millions of Jews out there, it might have been possible for him to forgive Karl.
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Old 04-12-2002, 08:19
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I liked the question that Jose Hobday raised when she asked if the officer even has the right to ask for forgiveness? The author asked himself if he has the right to forgive but never the other way round. Hobday then immediately in her next sentence states that the question is not very legitimate though since the officer does ask and so now we have to deal with the other questions. For me the question is nevertheless important. Did the SS officer have the right to ask for forgiveness? I don’t know since I do not see into him and know how much he really felt remorse for what he had done. I also very much like the quote Hobday gives us from her mother: "Do not b so ignorant and stupid and inhumane as they are. Go to an elder and ask for the medicine that will turn your heart from bitterness to sweetness. Your must learn the wisdom of how to let go of poison." This is a very true statement and maybe if the author had forgiven the officer he would have left the poison he carried in him in that room of death and it would save him many days he spent thinking about it.

Cardinal Franz Konig talks bout the difference of whether we can forgive and whether we may forgive. In the authors case he was maybe not in the place to forgive the SS man for what he had done on others, but he could have forgiven, he had the option. Konig than says that this all leaves unresolved the question of whether we should forgive. That is the main question, should he have forgiven? I agree with Koning that the author did do the dying man a favor just by listening to his confession and showing him sympathy by doing so. I think this was the right thing from the author to do. Also I strongly agree when Koning says that the fact that the author did not take an advantage if the situation and opportunity may be what still haunts him. It is possible that he now maybe even in the corner of his mind wishes that he would have shouted at the SS man and stormed out, maybe his own pain would be lessened. So there would have been two ways either to forgive as Hobday said or get angry as Koning suggested. It is the fact that the author stayed in the middle of these that is the problem.

Albert Speer was one of the SS men that carried out mass murders on Jews and other minorities. He talks about how horrible his deeds were and how he feels remorse towards them. He brings up the question if it is possible to forgive someone if that person has not forgiven himself or herself. That is a very interesting though. Is it possible? Would it even help the dying man? Speer talks about how he is thankful to the author as he met him in person and following the path of the SS man confessed his crimes to him. H said that the author was kind and once again did not take advantage of the opportunity to make his own feelings shown. He describes his eyes as being full of kindness but also reflecting the thousands of deaths. I feel compassion towards Speer and almost sorry for him. Then I get angry with myself. Why am I feeling sorry for a person that carried out such atrocities? Is it right to feel that way? I don’t know.
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Old 04-12-2002, 08:19
Kahsnake Kahsnake is offline
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Small Blac
Blac brings to mind a good point their can’t be group forgivness. This means that because one Jew forgives this SS officer it doesn’t mean he forgives all SS oficers nor that all Jews forgive this SS officer and certainly not that all Jews forgive all SS officers. But when you forgive one shouldn’t you forgive all? I think so.

The Dalai Lama
Yes, of course everyone deserves to be forgiven, but who has the right to give this forgivness. The point about forgiving and forgeting being different is very true, but I personally think that when you forgive you are forced to repress and denie some thing. I also think that saying, "I forgive you" is too easy and that there are responsibilities that go along with this forgiveness.

Mary Gordon
In very much agreeance with. If the SS officer is forgiven what does that change for him? If anything all it does is remove him from some of his pain. Maby it is better that he is not forgiven in life so he can suffer the rest of it as punishment and then forgiven in death.
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Old 04-12-2002, 08:22
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Herbert Marcuse

I guess this man is a victim of an unfair treatment in the Nazi Regime. Partly I agree with him that the main hero was right not answering a thing, because Herbert told that all Nazi’s couldn’t ask for so easy forgiveness. But we need to take in consideration the age of a dying Nazi. He is just a kid; he didn't commits too many crimes yet, so I think he deserves forgiveness. If in his place there was a dying Nazi veteran that took an active participation in Holocaust then he didn't deserve the forgiveness

Theodore M. Hesburgh

We need to understand that this guy is a religious man that believes in God. So we can't really judge his judgement because God said that we should always forgive each other no matter what the mistake of another person was.

Albert Speer

I totally agree with this man; he totally understands that human beings were made to forgive one another, especially if one is asking for it. Even that Nazi’s don't believe in God, other people do that is why you should forgive him.
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Old 04-12-2002, 08:22
Mara_Furlong Mara_Furlong is offline
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I wanted to chose someone that wouldn't immediately chose a side, someone that wasn't too emotional. For my term paper I had written about Albert Speer and knew that he was a very unemotional man. I read his reply and was a little shocked with the passion with which he wrote! I believe that one should be able to forgive themselves before asking others to forgive them, because if you aren't able to forgive yourself, then no matter how many people you ask to forgive you, you will still feel guilty.
I wanted to see a relogious aspect to this difficuilt decission, so I chose the Dalai Lama. I didn't quite understand what he was going on about' not forgetting the attrocities'. One would never forget something so immportant. If you have gone through so much pain and are asked to forgive someone that inflicted simmilar pain on others, then you are very unlikely to forget these things.
I had read 2 males opinions, so I decided to get a famales perspective and so I chose Mary Gordon. She was obviously a very catholic person, because she believed that only a priest or someone of that nature had the right to forgive anyone. Although I feel that a person has to have some authority, they don't necisarily have to be a priest. If they are a strong believer in their religion and have the ability to look at the situation from all sides, then they should be able to forgive anyone they deam fit.
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Old 04-12-2002, 09:03
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The Dalai Lama
I completely agree with The Dalai Lama and his beliefs. It’s inspiring to see that a man like that would forget to people like the Chinese. For example when he talks about that his friend who escaped the prison in China told The Dalai Lama that he fears that he is loosing his compassion of the Chinese. I though that this was a brilliant answer and certainly an understandable one.

Theodore M. Hesburgh
Mr. Hesburgh talks that it is God’s way to forgive and that he would have forgiven the man because God is forgiving. However, I disagree with that response because it is not God that drives you but your inner self. I don’t think that Wiesenthal was listening to God or thinking what God would have done in his place, but just following his free will and his own mind. So I disagree with Mr. Hesburgh response that he would have done it because God is forgiving.


Albert Speer
I think that Albert Speer has a correct stand here. However, I think that he is a bit too late about realizing the wrongs he would have done. I feel that if the Nazi’s did not loose the war that he would have never thought about the Jews, and that he would have never felt bad. He’s statement was a real displeasure to read, simply because I don’t believe what he wrote, and I feel that he is being truly insincere. Therefor, I feel that Albert Speer is being insincere because he is in the situation where he has to forgive the Jewish people.


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Old 04-14-2002, 11:41
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TZVETAN TODOROV I really think that this man has a very fair jugment on whether to forgive the nazi solider or not. He made it clear that a soul is forgiven unless it was forgieven by the soul that the crime or punishment was done to. I really think that this was an exceptble thing to say for not being Christian.

ALBERT SPEER i really found that Speer feeling guilty about his crimes was genuine, but i really dont think that his crime and the ss soliders crimes were the same. Speers has ordered many soliders to kill because of his opinion about the jews, But the ss solider was following orders from sombody like Speers.

HERBERT MARCUSE I some things that he says is true but not all. He says that a killer keeps on killing and at any given time he asked to the victum. But i dont agree because, if you a solider during war would disobay an order you would be punished or even killed so the pressure is done both ways.
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Old 04-14-2002, 15:16
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Herbert Marcuse – I don’t agree with him because he seemed to have a completely different view of the dying SS man than I did. He described the SS man as having gone around “happily killing and torturing and then, when the moment [had] come, simply ask[ed] … [for] forgiveness.” It didn’t seem to me that the man went around happily killing and torturing the Jews. Others might have and they should not be forgiven but the dying SS man seemed to have only participated in the killing of them once in that little town and he was sincerely troubled by it and regretted it in every way. He wasn’t happy. And it was not being happy about it that killed him. He regretted the actions he was led into so badly that he hesitated in battle and was killed for it. I believe others who did happily kill and torture Jews do not deserve forgiveness but at least this one dying SS man does. As to what Marcuse said about forgiveness perpetuating the crime, I do not believe this is so. I believe that at least this SS man was not trying to alleviate any evil because he never really did anything evil. He was part of a group that turned into something he never meant to become and was led into something he would never have done otherwise and so I don’t think

The Dalai Lama – I cannot completely agree with the Dalai Lama because, although I do believe one should forgive, he seems to be a bit too forgiving. I think that for something of this size and this level of cruelty (I don’t mean the SS man from the book but other more evil Nazis who had nothing against killing innocent Jews, maybe even enjoyed it, in general) one should not be able to forgive the perpetuator(s). I understand that forgiving and peace and harmony are their way but it just doesn’t seem possible to me to forgive the people that voluntarily created mass genocide.

Albert Speer – I fully agree with this man. How can one forgive someone who cannot fully forgive himself? What would the use be of forgiving someone in an extremely questionable situation if that person will not be able to forgive himself anyway? Besides, one cannot speak for an entire group of people so forgiving the dying SS man would have just been lying to him, giving him false hope. I actually do believe that in this case, the man should have been forgiven. He never meant to do what he did and after he did do what he did, he regretted it so badly it got him killed. In this case, and I’m sure at least a couple others, although the man still wouldn’t forgive himself for the crimes committed, at least one person forgiving him would make it a bit better.
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