As It Happens

As it Happened: The Archive Edition - The Forgiven Episode

Forgiveness can be extremely difficult in itself. And once expressed, it is often met with resistance — even condemnation of the person who has chosen to forgive.

Stories of absolution and atonement - from 50 years of AIH archives

Rais Bhuiyan campaigned to stop the execution of Mark Stroman, who shot him in the head shortly after 9/11, believing him to be of Middle Eastern origin. (Filmoption International)

"To err is human, to forgive divine."

The seven words in that oft-quoted phrase from English poet Alexander Pope say so much about how impossible it can often seem to turn the other cheek.

As the stories in this episode of As it Happened: The Archive Edition illustrate, expressing forgiveness can be extremely difficult in itself. And once expressed, it is often met with resistance — even condemnation of the person who has chosen to forgive.

Click on 'Listen' above to hear the broadcast version of the episode. Full-length versions of each of the interviews as they originally aired, as well as archival images, appear below.

I know if I would have spit on him, the world would applaud me. But what does it make me when I am acting revengeful?- Auschwitz survivor Eva Kor, on accepting a kiss from former SS guard Oskar Gröning at his trial

Chapter 1: Turning the other cheek

At the trial of a man accused of having been an SS guard at Auschwitz, a survivor accepts from him what many consider the unthinkable. 

Holocaust survivor Eva Mozes Kor meets former Nazi guard Oskar Groning at his trial in Germany. (Eva Mozes Kor)

Click here for more on this story.

Chapter 2: Marked by faith

In the wake of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, Rais Bhuiyan was targeted for being Muslim — and then campaigned to spare the life of the man who shot him in the head. 

Mark Stroman was executed by lethal injection on July 20, 2011, after killing two convenience store workers. Rais Bhuiyan, his third victim, survived and lobbied to stop his execution. (Filmoption International)

Click here for more on this story.

Chapter 3: A second shot

Ian Manuel might have spent his entire life in prison for robbery and attempted murder, if not for help from an old friend — the woman he'd shot as a teen. 

Ian Manuel, left, sits next to Benjamin Schaefer, a fellow with the Equal Justice Institute at a resentencing trial in 2011. (Daniel Wallace/St. Petersburg Times via The Associated Press)

Chapter 4: Catching hell

More than a decade after Steve Bartman caught hell for some major league interference, fellow Chicago Cubs fans consider finally forgiving him. 

Chicago Cubs left fielder Moises Alou reaches into the stands unsuccessfully for a foul ball tipped by fan Steve Bartman. (Amy Sancetta/Associated Press)

Listen to the full episode audio at the top of this post. 

Written and produced by Kevin Ball.


To encourage thoughtful and respectful conversations, first and last names will appear with each submission to CBC/Radio-Canada's online communities (except in children and youth-oriented communities). Pseudonyms will no longer be permitted.

By submitting a comment, you accept that CBC has the right to reproduce and publish that comment in whole or in part, in any manner CBC chooses. Please note that CBC does not endorse the opinions expressed in comments. Comments on this story are moderated according to our Submission Guidelines. Comments are welcome while open. We reserve the right to close comments at any time.

Become a CBC Member

Join the conversation  Create account

Already have an account?