Sunflower Essay

March 27, 2003

English I

Period 1

“Would you forgive him?” This is the question that I had to ask myself when writing my essay. How could I have reacted? How could anyone have reacted? Would people with different religions have reacted similarly? Simon Wiesenthal did the right thing in not forgiving Karl and giving him silence instead. Karl couldn’t have asked Simon to be a single voice for millions of people.

There were millions of Jews that lost their life in World War 2, including those murdered by Karl the SS man, how can Simon be their voice? Six million is too many to be represented by a single person. How could Karl ask something so great by a single person? Simon would not be forgiven by the other Jewish people for forgiving a Nazi. It would be just as worse as a Jew who killed his own just to protect his family. Simon does not know what it feels like to be six million Jews, dead, no less, because of a man who just wants to be relieved of a great injustice done by many, too many people.

The crimes of the Holocaust are too great to just forgive and forget as if the slaughtered persecuted people deserved it. When something as tragic as this happens you need to remember because if you just forgive and forget you are doomed to repeat it. Simon couldn’t have forgiven Karl, he just couldn’t. Simon did enough just by being an audience for the dying SS man. If Simon forgave Karl what would be next? Could he forgive himself? In Christianity it is said to love and forgive your enemies. In “Our Father’s Prayer”, a common Christian prayer, it is said to “Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us”. Or would it possibly be different for this? Could this possibly be that the Holocaust is a gateway crime? That this crime would lead to greater and more severe crimes? Simon should not have forgiven Karl.

Lastly, Karl didn’t truly feel sorry, he only wanted to make a confession so that seemingly his conscience would have been clean. Could Karl have been ashamed?! He should have done something if he truly felt sorry… he could have tried to stop it. Why did it have to be a Jew? Couldn’t it have been another person that he wronged? Couldn’t he have told a German, a fellow German, what was going on was wrong?

Sure, you could say, for my first point that Simon could have thought about what he might say more or that he could have gone back, but no Simon was probably too shocked that an SS man wanted to not only apologize, when at that very moment he was supposed to be cleaning up a school where he once “attended”. You could have said that my second point was unrealistic, but haven’t we seen this before in history? The first Gulf War was okay for government so now we have another one. Did Karl really feel sorry? You could say that he did, but why didn’t he stop? Why didn’t he ask to be transferred, at the least, to another department? Karl was a Nazi nearly his whole life. He betrayed his family, he couldn’t have felt sorry.

In conclusion Simon did the perfect thing, Karl only needed someone to listen to him. Karl did not feel sorry and therefore did not deserve to be forgiven. You cannot forgive a crime as big as this. It would ruin humanity. People and the world never be the same.