Flowers on the Edges of Graves: Damian

Flowers on the Edges of Graves: Damian

Damian Dudkiewicz

¬†This post is another in the series “Flowers on the Edges of Graves” –
reflections from participants of the Zen Peacemakers
Auschwitz/Birkenau Bearing Witness Retreats.




Damian Dudkievich, Poland/ Great Britain
(in photo, third from right)


[…]¬†I don‚Äôt remember exactly how often I participated, I think it might be over¬†ten times. My first retreat happened in 1999, I was the youngest participant¬†at that year, aged 18. I had not been to Auschwitz-Birkenau before.

As a Polish person, I learned about it at school, I saw programs on TV, read¬†in history books, but never went there.¬†A few months before the Retreat I had watched a short film done by¬†a Polish director, Andrzej Titkov, about that event, and something deep¬†down in my soul was calling me to go there.¬†It became one of the most significant experiences I had in my life. The¬†entire experience of this Bearing Witness Retreat was a big plunge for me into¬†the history and energy of that place ‚Ķ into the known, and into the unknown. […] Asking myself what this retreat brought into my life, I say: it connected¬†me with worlds inside and outside.

On the outside, I met lots of people from all over the planet, I experienced¬†the oneness of differences ‚Ķ People from many countries, traditions,¬†languages, cultures, sexual orientations, skin colors etc. in one place ‚Äď that¬†was a mind-opener for me. I started to learn English, and since 2008 I live¬†in London. On the inside, the Retreat was a journey into my own sorrow,¬†my own suffering, and I was able to connect with it. I met my own inner victim and also an oppressor, and it was possible to bring the lessons I learned¬†into my daily life.



This excerpt from Damain’s reflection appears in full¬†in the book
“AschePerlen – Pearls of Ash & Awe. 20 Years of Bearing Witness in Auschwitz with Bernie Glassman & Zen Peacemakers” (2015)¬†Edited by Kathleen Battke, Ginni Stern, and Andrzej Krajewski,¬†in German and English. Printed copies or e-book available at:



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Auschwitz/Birkenau Bearing Witness Retreat in 2016


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