When I first started reading about all of the unimaginable horrific crimes committed during the Holocaust, and the torture that went on in the concentration camps, my first reaction was how could human beings commit these atrocities against each other. ???While imprisoned in a Nazi concentration camp, Simon Wiesenthal was taken one day from his work detail to the bedside of a dying member of the SS. Haunted by the crimes in which he had participated, the soldier wanted to confess to??”and obtain absolution a Jew???(Wiesenthal back cover). My first gut reaction was not to forgive the dying SS man. Then I honestly started thinking about Simon Wiesenthal??™s question, ???What would I have done??? (98). I believe that you can forgive the crime committed against you without forgetting it.
So I started thinking about the morals, values and beliefs that I was taught as a child. We are all still human beings and should treat each other with respect and as you would want them to treat you. I was taught and still believe that we are all created equal and that no one is any better than anyone else, no matter what nationality, sexual orientation, political or religious views that they have.
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I also learned a valuable lesson back in March of 2010, when my fiance, Donald, passed away on Spring Break. At the time of his death, his best friend and him had been in an argument about a week before and were not speaking. Upon finding out that Donald was in the hospital and may not live, he stated, ???I hope he dies.??? Never in a million years did this friend think that Donald would die, but it hurt me deeply when he said this and then three days later Donald passed. I was very angry at this person for a long time. But long story short, I forgave the friend because Donald was a very forgiving person. Forgiveness for me helps me live my life the way that Donald would want me to.
In my opinion, as long as I harbor hate in my heart and am not a forgiving individual, I am also harming myself and could not have peace of mind.
I am of German ancestry and I would like to think and believe if I lived during this horrible time, I would have been one of the Germans who would have reached out to my fellow mankind that were being persecuted by hiding, feeding or standing up for them, no matter what the consequences were to myself. ???Was it not just as wicked for people to look on quietly and without protest at human beings enduring such shocking humiliation??? (57). No one person in this world thinks exactly alike, so why do people get upset when another person??™s opinion differs from theirs Everybody is brought up with a different set or version of their own moral, values and beliefs.
Alan L. Berger notes, ???Am I entitled to forgive on behalf of the murdered His response is, do not forgive someone for whom forgiveness is forbidden. I may
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forgive one who has sinned against me. I may not forgive one who has taken the life of another??? (119).
Sven Alkalaj states, ???This Bosnian generation, as well as the generation that lived through the Holocaust, are among the only ones who have the right to give an answer to the question of forgiveness. Forgetting the crimes would be worse than forgiving the criminal who seeks forgiveness, because forgetting the crimes devalues the humanity that perished in these atrocities. And, as is correctly pointed out by Simon??™s colleagues, he had no right to forgive on behalf of the victims??? (102). ???But without recognition of what happened, there can never be forgiveness??? (103). ???Nevertheless, you cannot have forgiveness without reconciliation and you cannot have reconciliation without at least a shred of forgiveness??? (104). ???I can say, however, that an argument can be made to forgive if there is a genuine recognition of guilt. But I cannot stress enough that to forget is unthinkable??? (105).
Forgiving does not mean that I will forget the bad events that have happened to me, but forgiveness will let me be free of the bitterness and hatred of not forgiving that person. To me, living without all of this in my heart is the real meaning of forgiveness.