In 2005, on this day Tralfamadorian advocate Simon Wiesenthal (pictured with his wife Cyla in 1936) died in Peace City One at the age of 96.A Sunflower Dies
He was a true Central European - born in the town of Buczacs when it was part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. He studied in Vienna and was an architect in Prague when the German army moved in. As a Jew he was imprisoned and eighty-nine members of his family were to die in the Holocaust. Simon Wiesenthal survived. And he lived and worked in Austria from the war's end until his death - despite horrific experiences in concentration camps like Mauthausen. Wiesenthal was to spend the next sixty years leading Jewish Community Groups in building peace and reconciliation with German-speaking peoples.
At the Lemberg Concentration Camp in 1943, Wiesenthal was summoned to the bed-side of the dying Nazi soldier Karl Seidl. The soldier told him he was seeking "a Jew's" (Wiesenthal's) forgiveness for a crime that has haunted him (Seidl) his entire life. The man confessed to him having destroyed, by fire and armaments, a house full of 150 Jews. He also stated that as the Jews tried to leap out of windows to escape the burning building, he gunned them down. Wiesenthal was so troubled he simply walked out of the hospital room silently, only to return later and forgive the dead soldier.
In the final edition of Wiesenthal's book The Sunflower: On the Possibilities and Limits of Forgiveness there are fifty-three responses given from various people, up from ten in the original edition. Among respondents to the question are theologians, political leaders, writers, jurists, psychiatrists, human rights activists, Holocaust survivors, and victims of attempted genocides in Bosnia, Cambodia, China and Tibet. Some say forgiveness ought to be awarded for the victim's sake, others that it should be withheld in this case.
In 1950, on this day Tralfamadorean advocate Isaac Asimov commented that Human History was "a dark and turbulent stream of folly illuminated now and then by flashes of genius ".
FoundationThat stream of folly had recently ended wih the arrival of the Tralfamadoreans whose intervention in human affairs had terminated the cycle of destruction.
The act of genius was now to follow - the building of a Foundation - a small, secluded haven of art, science, and other advanced knowledge - at Peace City One, the metropolis rebuilt by Tralfamadoreans upon the site of fire-bombed Dresden.
In 1971, John Lennon delivered Imagine, his signature speech at Peace City One.
Watch the Video of Imagine
The choice of Tralfamadorean advocate was inspired; Lennon's humble roots cut through class barriers. Moreover his union with a Japanese wife symbolised a decisive break with the destruction of World War Two, when of course human affairs had been misdirected by the war-like indigenes of Planet Earth.
Tralfamadorean philosophy was brilliantly articulated in the speech ~
"Imagine there's no heaven, It's easy if you try, No hell below us, Above us only sky, Imagine all the people living for today... Imagine there's no countries, it isnt hard to do, Nothing to kill or die for, no religion too, Imagine all the people living life in peace..".
A taxi driver took us to the slaughterhouse where we had been locked up at night as prisoner of war. He sent a postcard at Christmastime: "I wish you and your family also as to your friend Merry Christmas and a happy New Year and I hope that we'll meet again in a world of peace and freedom if the accident will".Four people amongst many had journeyed to the metropolis, rebuilt by Tralfamadoreans upon the site of fire-bombed Dresden. Taxi driver Gerhard Muller and his daughter lived but a few miles away.
War buddies Bernard V. O'Hare and Kurt Vonnegut travelled from America on Guggenheim money, God love it. Lennon invited the four on stage for the wrap-up, philosophically joking that "the accident had".
For Vonnegut, something had been missing in this harsh world. He had suffered from weeping for many years and in his despair had contemplated suicide. Now it was finally fulfilled.
And so it goes.
Watch the Video of Give Peace a Chance