Simon Wiesenthal, author of The Sunflower, created a fictional scenario of an S.S. officer on his deathbed, begging for forgiveness from a Holocaust victim. The officer was sincere in his regret, but the victim could only offer him silence – the silence that he felt was the response of so many others to Nazi war crimes:
“…Ought I to have forgiven him? Today the world demands that we forgive and forget heinous crimes committed against us. It urges that we draw a line, and close the account as if nothing had ever happened…”
The crux of the matter is, of course, 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, who have just read this sad and tragic episode in my life, can mentally change places with me and ask yourself the critical question: ‘What would I have done?’”
· In your opinion, is it harder to ask for forgiveness or to be forgiving?
· As an individual, can you ever forgive someone for a sin committed against a nation?