“Those that fail to learn from history are doomed to repeat it.”
~ Winston Churchill, May 15, 2020
Holocaust Remembrance Day begins at sundown on April 27 and ends at nightfall on the 28th in recognition of the 6 million Jews who lost their lives—1-1/2 of them children—at the hands of Hitler’s Nazis…
In 1969, Nazi hunter Simon Wiesenthal penned The Sunflower. It begins with a young Jew being taken from a death camp to an army hospital and placed at the bedside of a young Nazi soldier whose head is wrapped in bandages. The dying soldier reaches for the Jew’s hand and makes his confession. The Jew silently listens…
“… All I know about the Jews was what came out of the loudspeaker or what was given to us to read. We were told that they were the cause of all our misfortunes… Trying to get on top of us, they caused war, poverty, hunger, unemployment…
“An order was given, and we marched towards the huddled mass of Jews. There were a hundred of them or perhaps two hundred, including many children who stared at us with anxious eyes… A truck arrived with cans of petrol which we unloaded and took into a house… Then we began to drive the Jews into the house… After a few minutes there was no Jew left on the street. Then another truck came up full of more Jews, and they too were crammed into the house with the others. Then the door was locked, and a machine gun was posted opposite… We heard screams and saw the flames eat their way from floor to floor. We had our rifles ready to shoot down anyone who tried to escape from that blazing hell…”
The soldier, terrified of dying with this guilt, begs the Jew to forgive him. Having listened to the confession for several hours–“torn between horror and compassion for the dying man”—the Jew finally walks away without speaking.
That young Jew was actually Simon Wiesenthal, himself.
Released in 1945 from the Kraków-Płaszów concentration camp, he learned that eighty-nine of his relatives had died during the Holocaust, including his mother in the Belzec extermination camp and his mother-in-law who was shot in the stairway of her home.
The question Wiesenthal asks of us is this: Was he right to say nothing at all, thus withholding his forgiveness? Or was he wrong to let the young Nazi die unforgiven for his crime?
What would you have done? ~ Carol