Could you forgive a Nazi?

Discuss the August 2014 book of the month The Storyteller by Jodi Picoult.
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Bhodgedds
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Re: Could you forgive a Nazi?

Post by Bhodgedds »

I think this may be why I was so drawn in while reading this book. I struggled all the way through asking myself if I could forgive, should forgive. I found myself on both sides of the fence! It is good for us to be challenged in this way. We need to ask ourselves the difficult questions. Life can be numbing. Though I don't want to dig so deeply within with every book I read, I gained insight by asking, "Could I forgive?"

The easy answer is yes, if the person was truly sorry. The correct answer is that forgiving does as much for me as it does for the forgiven one.

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Post by maroki13 »

Since my family was not immediately impacted by the Holocaust (and by that, I mean none were imprisoned or murdered in concentration camps), I'd feel uncomfortable assuming it was my place to grant forgiveness, even if I thought someone deserved it. That being said, I agree with many other posters who said that it would depend on the nature of the crime...in this case, whether the person was an officer giving orders, or a foot soldier standing guard (taking orders), etc.
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Post by mystery lady »

It isn't easy for me to forgive someone who has done such evil, so I might think I would be unforgiving toward a Holocaust officer. There are survivors, however, who have chosen to forgive the wrong done to them and their families. They have found peace in forgiveness. I would hope I could forgive and find that kind of peace myself.
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Post by ebwb18 »

I recently read this book and really enjoyed it. I found Picoult did an amazing job of capturing the emotions of going through the holocaust and the survivor's emotions.

As for forgiving a Nazi - something about the book that I found interesting was that Sage did not even know her grandmother was a Holocaust survivor until after Josef approached her. I thought this could have made it easier for her to forgive Josef, but it did not. I think this really shows how no matter whether you, someone you know, or even if you don't know anyone affected by the Holocaust, forgiving a person who was able to commit such atrocities for years is not something that can easier be given. Especially when they have gone on for so many years without paying for their actions.

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Post by WilliamsQ »

mystery lady wrote:It isn't easy for me to forgive someone who has done such evil, so I might think I would be unforgiving toward a Holocaust officer. There are survivors, however, who have chosen to forgive the wrong done to them and their families. They have found peace in forgiveness. I would hope I could forgive and find that kind of peace myself.
Well put. I feel similarly. And perhaps forgive, but not forget.

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Post by Jausten11 »

Yes I could "forgive" a Nazi. What many of you are forgetting is that your actions and decision to forgive someone doesn't mean that you are accepting of their cruel actions. When someone breaks your heart and you forgive them, do you feel that them breaking your heart is acceptable? No way. But I can forgive and move on.

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Post by Aithne »

I think with the level of horror that occurred during the war, it would be very difficult for those left behind to forgive or forget the actions of those that have torn families, loved ones and communities apart. I do wonder, though, whether it is sometimes more a case of needing to blame the idealist first thought behind the murders rather than individuals, since it has been proven people often follow strong authority regardless of their discomfort. That said, my own family history has its own scars and I think, for me, it would be impossible to forgive the community involved in such an act. It's a human reaction to cower or hate that which has caused pain.
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Post by stoppoppingtheP »

There is so much tragedy around us now. Do you think that we perhaps are living through some horrendous actions that will later be recorded down in history. And we will have seen these actions on the news, but just looked away? And our children will ask us about these days and what we did. Which side we chose.
Are we living on the right side of history now? Its something I've thought about a lot.

I think a lot of those people living during the Holocaust just turned away. Pretending not to see. Which is why this sort of thing is allowed to happen.

“there have been so many times
i have seen a man wanting to weep
but
instead
beat his heart until it was unconscious.

-masculine”


― Nayyirah Waheed

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Post by npandit »

This discussion is so interesting because on a lesser scale, I think we've all been on both sides of the guilty/forgiveness fence. If you have hurt another person, you feel guilty and you want to make right what you have done wrong, but maybe should be willing to come to terms with it if you are never forgiven. If you have been wronged, it sort of becomes your job to figure out what to do with the pain you feel.
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Post by Gravy »

Many of the responses to this make me want to look at the question from a different angle.

What if you met someone, became friends with them, got really close, and then learned that (at some point in the past) the were forced (or chose) to take a life, but that they hated themselves for it, would you cut them out of your life? Or would you understand that they weren't the same person anymore, and, in essence, forgive them?

As for the basis of this thread, Nazis, I don't think there is a right or wrong answer, as there are too many variables.
I also want to reiterate that those with disabilities were also rounded up.
No doubt many of us would have been in danger at this time.
Unfortunately, that's something I've actually thought a lot about, and I think it's something that deserves to be mentioned.
So many people have said that they don't feel like they'd have the right, but it could easily have been any of us.
And it could also easily be any of us. Despite the very human habit of thinking things like this can't happen anymore, they can. They even do, if in smaller, more subtle ways.
stoppoppingtheP wrote:There is so much tragedy around us now. Do you think that we perhaps are living through some horrendous actions that will later be recorded down in history. And we will have seen these actions on the news, but just looked away? And our children will ask us about these days and what we did. Which side we chose.
Are we living on the right side of history now? Its something I've thought about a lot.

I think a lot of those people living during the Holocaust just turned away. Pretending not to see. Which is why this sort of thing is allowed to happen.
:text-yeahthat:
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Post by gali »

Gravy wrote:Many of the responses to this make me want to look at the question from a different angle.

What if you met someone, became friends with them, got really close, and then learned that (at some point in the past) the were forced (or chose) to take a life, but that they hated themselves for it, would you cut them out of your life? Or would you understand that they weren't the same person anymore, and, in essence, forgive them?

As for the basis of this thread, Nazis, I don't think there is a right or wrong answer, as there are too many variables.
I also want to reiterate that those with disabilities were also rounded up.
No doubt many of us would have been in danger at this time.
Unfortunately, that's something I've actually thought a lot about, and I think it's something that deserves to be mentioned.
So many people have said that they don't feel like they'd have the right, but it could easily have been any of us.
And it could also easily be any of us. Despite the very human habit of thinking things like this can't happen anymore, they can. They even do, if in smaller, more subtle ways.
stoppoppingtheP wrote:There is so much tragedy around us now. Do you think that we perhaps are living through some horrendous actions that will later be recorded down in history. And we will have seen these actions on the news, but just looked away? And our children will ask us about these days and what we did. Which side we chose.
Are we living on the right side of history now? Its something I've thought about a lot.

I think a lot of those people living during the Holocaust just turned away. Pretending not to see. Which is why this sort of thing is allowed to happen.
:text-yeahthat:
I would never forgive, nor forget, and definitely will cut them out of my life. Sadly history seems to repeat itself nowadays.
In the case of good books, the point is not to see how many of them you can get through, but rather how many can get through to you." (Mortimer J. Adler)

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Post by Gravy »

That's what's so great about discussions like these, there's no right or wrong answers :mrgreen2:

I don't think I actually answered the question :lol:
I would have to say that I don't know. It would depend too much on the specific situation, and the individual in question.
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Post by StephThyng »

lnygaard wrote:I was talking about this book the other day with my family and it ended up being a discussion on forgiving Nazis. In the book, Josef feels that Sage had the powere to forgive him because of her Jewish heritage---do you think he's right? If someone asked you to forgive them even if it didn't directly affect you, would you do it?

Personally, I think I wouldn't be able to do it. Since I wasn't directly affected by the holocaust or my family I would feel a little strange offering it. I don't think it would be my place... Then again can you hold one SS officer accountable for the entire genocide? What do you think?
I 100% agree with this. Granted everyone heals differently and to some this may be peaceful and a way of having a "leg up", but I personally don't feel I could ever forgive such torment.
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Post by Insightsintobooks »

Forgiving a Nazi is a tough issue. No one I know of my family were impacted by them. I think that it would be hard to forgive them if they were. While I wasn't directly impacted I still think it was horrible and we need to learn from history.
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Post by Toria Mason »

It's hard to say. I would have to know that individual person's story, what their motives were, what roles they played, and how genuinely regretful I believed they may be.
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