In The Sunflower: On The Possibilities and Limits of Forgiveness, who is the prisoner and what did he do?

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durbanville eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Simon Wiesenthal wrote The Sunflower: On The Possibilities and Limits of Forgiveness as part of the process of healing as he was instrumental in identifying and bringing to trial Nazi war criminals. He became a leading authority with a remarkable ability for obtaining information and assisting in the formulation of cases against war criminals. This true story of his own struggles, his own significant survival and his acceptance of his situation lead him towards his interpretation of forgiveness. 

Wiesenthal barely escapes death many times and recalls an incident in 1943 when he is ordered from his duties in a prison work squad to the bedside of a dying soldier, responsible for the deaths of many of Wiesenthal's fellow citizens. It was a common occurrence to use the Jews for many of the labor- intense operations, even digging their own graves. The incident clearly haunts Wiesenthal and he asks his readers "What would you do?' The prisoner is therefore Wiesenthal himself and his crime is his status as a Jew as he was one of many Jews rounded up during the Nazi occupation of Eastern Europe.  

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