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Il girasole

4.09  ·  Rating details ·  6,879 ratings  ·  636 reviews
Nel 1942, a Leopoli, una SS morente chiede ad un ebreo il perdono per icrimini che ha commesso. A rifiutare questa grazia al giovane nazista è SimonWiesenthal, che dopo la guerra diventerà l'implacabile "cacciatore deinazisti" . A distanza di tempo quel rifiuto continua a turbare Wiesenthal: nediscute con gli amici, va a visitare l'anziana madre della SS, infine decidedi r ...more
Paperback, 225 pages
Published 2002 by Garzanti (first published 1969)
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Jul 27, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Simon Wiesenthal is in a Nazi Concentration Camp in Poland and performing physical labor at a local hospital when a nurse comes up to him and says, "Are you a Jew? Come with me." She leads him to a room, in which a catastrophically injured young man lays. The injured man asks Simon to sit and listen to his story.

The young man is a Nazi. He was raised very Catholic and hoped to become a priest before diverting from his plan and becoming a member of the Hitler Youth. He then joined the SS "as soo
Wiesenthal's true story might just be a thought experiment for an Intro to Ethics course, were it not for his writing, which makes this book something loftier. Much less interesting are the short essays that make up the second part of the book. In these, an all-star team of moral authorities (including Desmond Tutu and the Dalai Lama) offer brief responses to the central dilemma of the story: To what extent are victims of atrocities required or even permitted to forgive their persecutors?

Many o
Jul 21, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I gave this book five stars not because of literary style or readability but because of IMPACT, on a very personal level. The theme here is FORGIVENESS: it's meaning, it's affect on our lives, and its limits or limitlessness.
I did not choose this book. My 87 year old Aunt Dominica lent it to me and asked me to read it. She had recently read it and was hungry to discuss it with someone. I look forward to that exchange.
This book is divided into two parts. The first section (a mere 98 p
Jan Rice
Mar 11, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: theology
In this book Simon Wiesenthal takes the first 100 pages to describe an event in his life and the surrealistic dilemma it posed. One day while he was in a Nazi forced labor camp in Poland, his group finished some railroad labor and got put on clean-up duty in a wartime hospital instead. On that day, a nurse chooses him at random, beckons him aside, and confirms the obvious--that he is a Jew. Then he gets taken to the bedside of a dying SS soldier (SS troops being the Nazi elite who ran the Holoca ...more
Aug 25, 2007 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book gathers a diverse collection of responses to a request for forgiveness by a dying soldier for atrocities he took part in. In part, some of the responses tended to gather around perspectives that different faiths had about forgiveness, including a core question of whether some acts can even be forgiven if the person who was wronged was no longer living and could not be asked for forgiveness. The power in the book was to communicate that "forgiveness" is not something to glibly advise so ...more
Dec 28, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended by Juli Ann -- I'm not sure I'll do this in a sitting; I may mete out the essays between other pieces of fiction.

Well...I'll be honest. I didn't read every essay in the back of the book. I read the ones written by people I have heard of. That was interesting. I enjoyed reading Matthew Fox & Desmond Tutu. Cynthia Ozick's was my favorite response. I think my reading of this holocaust account was made more intense by my experience at the Museum of Tolerance this pa
Kathleen Dixon
This is an extraordinary book. Simon Wiesenthal is the “Nazi hunter” who spent his life since the war (WWII) identifying Nazi war criminals in order for them to be brought to trial. For this work he has been honoured by the governments of Italy, the Netherlands, Israel, and the United States. He was born in 1908 in Buczaz, a city in the Austro-Hungarian Empire, and he studied in Prague and Lvov. He had just begun work in an architectural office in Lvov (Poland) when the Germans invaded. From 194 ...more
Jin Huh
Sep 10, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is a MUST READ.

When I reviewed over the responses of the greatest minds to master the subject of grace, I found that every individual had to relate to it. No one was Simon nor no one was that Nazi soldier. With every individual’s limited viewing in the court that Wiesenthal has created, they had to relate to it to the best of their ability to decipher what Weisenthal should or should not have done. No one was omniscient. Everyone was tied to his or her limited human experiences
Erik Graff
Aug 13, 2013 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: high school ethics classes
Recommended to Erik by: Erin S.
Shelves: philosophy
As given in the book description, this is at once a memoir and a large set of responses to it, most hingeing on the problematics of sin and forgiveness. Appropriately, it is often used as a text in ethics classes.

Personally, I found it distressing for two reasons. The first was because of the memoir itself. Descriptions of concentration camp life and of war are distressing enough, but in this loaded instance when the war is WWII, the camp a Nazi one and the victims the Jewish author
Jan 13, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
The story itself is very powerful and does bring this slew of questions into mind. What would you have done? Did he do the right thing? I found myself more thinking of what I had hoped he'd done. But when it comes to the second half of the book, other people's opinions, I found other opinions to be not compelling or annoying. Some I understood and appreciated but most felt like ugh what. In fact, I did not finish that section because i didn't really care about what all these people thought. Some ...more
The Sunflower has been on my “to read” list for many years. Simon Wiesenthal’s recounting of his experience at the bedside of a dying SS soldier and the moral dilemma that it inflicted upon him is powerful and devastating. It has shattered all of my overwrought and trivial wisdom about forgiveness. There is no simple solution. Perhaps, Mr. Wiesenthal’s response – silence – is the only real response that could be offered in such a situation. Theologian Matthew Fox says this in his commentary on T ...more
Nov 08, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I have read several books by Simon Wiesenthal and all of them are heart wrenching yet thought provoking. The Sunflower was no exception. Reading this book forces you to make the decision, would you be able to forgive this dying Nazi soldier who took part in the torture and suffering of the Jews? I am amazed that Mr Wiesenthal was able to sit for as long as he did listening to this man. It was pretty clear to me that this dying man was still only really concerned with himself and believes that if ...more
Jan 02, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: school
The Sunflower was quite the interesting read. Wiesenthal did not offer readers a leisurely read. No, he forced each reader think hard and long about his own experience and what they would do if they were ever in his place, one reason I enjoyed reading it. I liked this book because it read like a fictional novel, which is the only type of book I tend to read. Besides that minor point, I adored how the novel made my mind work over deep topics and how it provided me a small gateway into the life of ...more
Lisa Nemchek
Apr 27, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
What would you do if your persecutor asked for your forgiveness? The writer tells us what he did and the rest of the book are what well known writers and philosophers wrote what their thoughts. They way we answer this question reflects who we're are. Not sure any of us can ever put ourselves in the position of Simon. What this book offers is the opportunity to reflect on what we can do today to make the lives of those currently persecuted better.
This story, like much of the Holocaust canon, carries a distinct weightiness, if only for the scale of human atrocities that were committed--and the fact that we can refer to a canon under which we may subsume genocide as simply a category, but whose umbrella is inclusive of so much more that is so atrocious as to have no equivalent. It is a scale which has yet to be balanced by acts of extraordinary compassion in the face of unmitigated evil, in part, because, true self-sacrifice rarely survive ...more
The Nuremberg Trials is the general name for two sets of trials of Nazis involved in war crimes committed during WWII. The first, and most famous trial, tried the most important and decorated political and military leaders of the Third Reich. The second set of trials for lesser war criminals. This book deals with a different kind of trial in which you, the reader, are the judge. Imagine you are a Jewish prisoner in a concentration camp and a dying Nazi soldier ask for your forgiveness for crimes ...more
Kathy Maggiacomo
Not a summer read. Too deep but I think it's an important book to read. It's scary to think how a government can have corupt people rise to power, Hitler, and worse is to think how people don't stop it from happening. How could anyone convince "good boys" who were raised with religious beliefs and morals to murder innocent Jews or any group for that matter on such a scale. It shocks me to believe people are capable of shooting down woman, children and unarmed civilians with the belief they are " ...more
Jul 01, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Simon Wiesenthal proposes the question, "What would you have done?" What would I have done? That is an impossible question to answer. I would like to say that I would have forgiven the S.S. officer, but at the same time I would like to say that I would not have forgiven him. Is it my right to forgive on the behalf of others? If so how can I if they are all dead? The novel is mind-boggling for not only me, for for most of those who respond to Simon's debacle.
Here is how I see it. I think that fo
This book was just fascinating. Simon Wiesenthal first relates his experience of being a prisoner in a concentration camp and having a dying Nazi soldier ask him for forgiveness for his crimes against the Jews. Then there are 53 responses by noted theologians, historians, clerics and others as to whether what Mr. Wiesenthal did was right or not.
Some responses focused on who has the right to forgive. Others were really off topic. I found myself underlining passages, writing comments in the margi
Pamela Stadden
Jun 12, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
While the topic is a self-imposed question that asks all to consider Simon's actions, the story/problem explores our understanding of forgiveness on numerous levels. The essays at the end of the book attempt to explain human actions and place significance on the importance of free will. Forgiveness is about letting go explains one essay; while another essay mentions that if the SS officer was not facing death, his confession would not have happened; and Desmond Tuto explains that forgiveness is ...more
Oct 28, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Simon Wiesenthal's story of being an inmate in a concentration camp and being asked by a dying Nazi soldier for forgiveness poses many moral issues for consideration and discussion. Was it Simon's right to grant forgiveness and were his actions just? Was the dying man truly repentant or just guilty and fearful of dying? What of his choice of joining the SS and his choice of Simon as the listener of his last confession? Should Simon have told the soldier's mother something other than what he did? ...more
The first 80ish pages contain the main story and point of this book. The rest of the book is people trying to answer how they would have handled the conundrum the author lays out in the beginning. If a truly penitent person guilty of committing crimes against Jewish people (now dead, partially as a result of his crimes) asks for forgiveness how do you respond? I won't try to clarify the situation any more as it's a complex situation and you should read it in full context before trying to answer. ...more
Jun 19, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A compelling moral conundrum posed by Simon Weisenthal during his ordeal during the Holocaust, followed by the question: what would you have done in his shoes? What follows is a number of scholars, clergyman, religious figures and academics attempting to answer this seemingly impossible question. It was very compelling, introspective, and quotable. It also clearly displayed the difference between forgiveness in Judaism versus Christianity, something of which I was unaware.
Oct 20, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nonfiction
I give this book 3.5 stars which rounds up to 4.

I read this book for one of my philosophy classes.

This book poses a very interesting ethical dilemma: As a prisoner in a concentration camp, do you forgive a dying SS solider? This book offers numerous responses to this question. Some were a bit repetitive. Some didn't really answer the question at all. But some were really thought provoking.
Jan 18, 2012 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: don-t-bother
This book provides a clear reminder that survivors of the Holocaust can be bad writers, too. To be fair, I had to read this book because the college where I teach assigned this to all the Freshman. The responses to the question Wiesenthal poses are not interesting either. I will give the book an extra star, though, because I also disapprove of genocide.
Kate Diffley
I think this is a book everyone should read.
This is an analysis essay I wrote for my AP English class. It is about the power and meaning of Silence in the Sunflower. Not my best, but it'll have to do. . .
The Power of Silence in The Sunflower

In The Sunflower: On the Possibilities and Limits of Forgiveness, Simon Wiesenthal asks the reader’s personal opinion on the act of forgiveness. Are there crimes so heinous that forgiveness cannot be granted? What must the guilty party do or feel in order to earn the forgiveness of the wronged? And p
Very thought provoking book. Actually, there were two books, one describing the author's experience in a Nazi concentration camp, and in particular, an encounter with a dying SS officer who told the author about his part in the brutal killing of jews that he participated in. The author listened to the dying man, and was even humane in his treatment of him, but did not "forgive" the Nazi, but instead, left the room without saying anything. Wiesenthal was troubled for the rest of his life wonderin ...more
Feb 20, 2019 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I DNF this book. I felt the author was conveying a very horrible, horrific first account of his experience of the Holocaust. I wish the author's writing pulled me into his experience. But his writing is very dry...boring...just facts.

I am not catholic and many of the essays that were composed of people answering the authors questions were repetitive. I just don't want to read anymore.

Overall, I have respect for the author. But I did not like this book.
J.E. Raley
Jul 05, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
So thought provoking, raw, and complicated. The story and following narratives & opinions display the complexities of forgiveness, evil, victims, and justice. The task of forgiveness can be a rough one, whether you're seeking or giving. But this read sheds light on the depth of humanity in a world that can sometimes remove the human element from the souls of others. Worth the read. Worth the introspection.
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Simon Wiesenthal, KBE, was an Austrian-Jewish architectural engineer and Holocaust survivor who became famous after World War II for his work as a Nazi hunter who pursued Nazi war criminals in an effort to bring them to justice.

Following four and a half years in the German concentration camps such as Janowska, Plaszow, and Mauthausen during World War II, Wiesenthal dedicated most of hi