In this episode, we talk about Simon Wiesenthal’s sunflowers, real ones, or artificial and made from paper or any other material. In 1969, well-known Holocaust survivor and author Simon Wiesenthal wrote The Sunflower. On the Possibilities and Limits of Forgiveness. In this book, he recounted his experience with a mortally wounded Nazi soldier during World War II, and then asked prominent figures from politics, science and theology the question about what they would do under the circumstance. The “Sunflower” in the title referred to Wiesenthal's observation of a German military cemetery, where he saw a sunflower on each grave, while he was imprisoned in the Janowska concentration camp near Lviv and feared for his own body to end up in an unmarked mass grave. The book touched many people, some of whom then expressed their emotions by sending sunflowers, real or crafted, to Wiesenthal’s office.
The sunflowers are now part of the collection of the Vienna Wiesenthal Institute (VWI) in Austria.
Marianne Windsperger works as a research coordinator at the Vienna Wiesenthal Institute for Holocaust Studies (VWI). Kinga Frojimovics is a historian and senior archivist and project leader at the VWI.
Music accreditation: Blue Dot Sessions. Tracks - Opening and closing: Stillness. Incidental, Gathering Stasis, Pencil Marks, Uncertain Ground, Marble Transit and Snowmelt. License Creative Commons Atttribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International (BB BY-NC 4.0).
Studs Terkel Radio Archive, courtesy of Chicago History Museum and WFMT for the radio-interview with Simon Wiesenthal. 1976