Forgive and Forget?
In his book "Sunflower", Simon Wiesenthal poses a very difficult philosophical question. With a SS man, Karl, on his deathbed, he asks you for forgiveness on all the atrocities and specifically one horrible one he has committed throughout his service as an SS man. What do you do in his place? The most difficult part in answering his question is that you really can't know until you were in such a position yourself. Yet we can project our feelings on this dilemma. So forgiveness becomes the focal point in this query. What is forgiveness and who deserves it and why? These are the questions posed. In my answer to his main question of what I would have done I seem to relate more to the approach of Stein and Heschel rather than that of the Dalai Lama or Dith Pran. I tend to side with them for one reason.
I believe that Karl decided to confess just so he could feel better about himself instead and his fear of death rather than coming to a realization of his wrongs. I believe this for several reasons.
The first reason I believe that Karl was confessing was because he feared death and knew he was dying. He knew he was dying and what he decided to do was tell his horrible story to a Jew. My main concern with Karl's last confession is that with his newfound realization of what was radically horrible he didn't try to inform, persuade or even alert anyone who could possibly help the situation. By telling a Jew he could accomplish only self-assurance that he maybe isn't such a bad person. But if his actions really affected him he could tell a comrade or a doctor who could defect and possibly...