Bearing Witness Retreat at Auschwitz-Birkenau

Bernie Glassman and the Zen Peacemakers are returning for their 19th  Retreat to the  site of the concentration camps of Auschwitz-Birkenau, in Oświęcim, Poland, for a Bearing Witness Retreat in November 2014.

Bernie Glassman began the annual Bearing Witness Retreats in 1996, with help from Eve Marko and Andrzej Krajewski. They have taken place annually since then.

Much has been written about these annual retreats; at least half a dozen films have been made about them in various languages. They are multi-faith and multinational in character, with a strong focus on the Zen Peacemakers’ Three Tenets: Not-Knowing, Bearing Witness, and Loving Action.

Most of each day is spent sitting by the train tracks in Birkenau, both in silence and in chanting the names of the dead. There is time to walk through the vast camps, vigils inside women’s and children’s barracks, and memorial services. Participants meet daily in small Council groups designed to create a safe place for people to share their inner experiences. The whole group  gathers in the evenings to bear witness to oneness in diversity.

Although Auschwitz, the Place, is the main Teacher for this retreat, experienced Spirit Holders meet, with Bernie Glassman, each day to reflect on the retreat flow, schedule, events and make appropriate modifications if necessary.