Dates: November 2-7’20

 Base price: $1600 USD~See whats included below. Discounts may apply at registration.

Register for 2020 Retreat Now

Zen Peacemakers International is a 501(c)3 non-profit religious organization registered in the US EIN #133030252

Two opportunities to join a free online video Question and Answer call with the retreat staff. Register Below:

Call on 5/15/2020

Call on 8/14/2020

About the Retreat

In November 1989 the Berlin Wall fell down. It had stood for 28 years and 88 days, separating families, suppressing free movement by free people through the use of bricks, armed soldiers, and watchtowers.

November 2020 will mark 31 years since the fall of the Berlin Wall. During this time more than 54 new walls and border fences have been built. The United States government stubbornly plans to build a wall separating it from its southern neighbor, Mexico.

In November 2-7, 2020 the Zen Peacemakers will return to bear witness at the concentration camps of Auschwitz-Birkenau in Poland. We’ll once again feel the razor wire fences of imprisonment, gather in barracks that once squeezed humans tighter than cattle, and pray by those deep rectangles in the ground that killed people because they were different on account of religion, country, ethnicity, and sexual preference. Or just because. Because we continue to have scapegoats, someone to blame, rather than accept the complex responsibility of living fully as human beings.

A few years ago, much of what is going on now in the West was unthinkable. But the unthinkable is not just openly discussed, it’s being implemented. In Poland it is illegal to talk of Polish complicity in the murder of Jews in Poland. Democracy and diversity have become dirty words. Sectarianism and bigotry have reared their ugly heads, stoking fear of immigrants, refugees, poor families, and ethnic and religious minorities.

In the United States, guns have better protection than children; banks more safeguards than Mother Earth.

How we define ourselves, and how others discriminate against us, is not confined to one single-word. Today we witness the intersectionality of discrimination – individuals and groups are marginalized for being of a certain color, and of certain sexual orientation, and of certain class, and of certain religion, in complex and overlapping ways. Today requires us to bear witness with curiosity, sensitivity and openness to a detailed landscape of the many layers of discrimination, and what makes us, and others, uniquely human. Can we then see this intersectionality as a common ground, where across seeming differences, collaboration and solidarity can rise?

What does diversity mean to you? Are we all in this together, or are a privileged few inside and everyone else out? Who is included, and who is excluded? What do we wish for our society, for this blue/green planet we call home?

Now more than ever it is crucial to bear witness to the results of xenophobia and bigotry. The 2020 retreat at Auschwitz-Birkenau will not only bear witness to the killing and torture of Jews, Gypsies, Gays, and Polish intellectuals and journalists, to a time when a non-Aryan life was deemed a worthless life. This year’s retreat will also testify to what is taking place now in our own backyards. It will testify to the cynical manipulation of media and information. It will testify to the more than 65 million people now fleeing wars and environmental disasters, seeking urgently for food and a roof over their heads. It will testify to the many more people who will soon face new walls.

For over 20 years we have sat together in the place of fences and guard towers, 80-100 people from many different backgrounds, from Bosnia, Rwanda, Israel, Palestine, Brazil, Russia, Germany, Poland, the United States, along with members of First Nations. Time and again we learned to listen deeply to each other, gaining a new respect for the richness of life that arises out of different stories and viewpoints.

We seek and welcome this diversity especially now. We seek young people who feel despair at what they see around them. We seek those with wisdom and vision. And more than ever before, we seek to galvanize each other to act as children of Mother Earth and take action to protect her and all her inhabitants, without exception.

How do we strengthen our resolve? How do we build bridges and alliances instead of walls? And in times of pessimism and confusion, where do we find clarity and inspiration to move forward?

Let’s come together in Poland this coming November, receive each other’s gifts, make vows on that sacred ground, and celebrate the sacredness of all life.

Register for 2020 Retreat Now

Zen Peacemakers offers an opportunity to apply for scholarships for those in financial need. The scholarships are partial and depend on our funding for each year. Scholarships will be given out with a preference toward diversity and first-time participants. We can usually provide more information about scholarships in August, as by that time, we know how many people have signed up for the retreat, and how much funding we have available for prospective participants in need of financial assistance.

If you would like to apply for a scholarship please email: [email protected].

There also is the possibility to raise your retreat fee by Mala practice. If interested, please read more about this practice under  FUNDRAISE YOU TUITION.

Your fee finances the administrative and logistical costs of the retreat such as transportation, lodging, food, tour guides, and travel of staff, as well as towards the year-long administration of the retreat by ZP staff. It contributes to honorariums and travel costs needed to bring select guests, scholarships for local participants, those of diverse backgrounds and those with limited means.

For Travel Purposes:

TRANSPORTATION: Your Fee includes all transportation starting Monday 11/2/2020, 8:00 am (beginning of retreat in Krakow) and ending on Saturday 11/7/2020 with transportation from retreat center to Krakow airport, train station and main square).

LODGING: Your fee includes room and board starting with lunch on Monday 11/2/2020 and ending with breakfast on Saturday 11/7/2020. Your room at the Dialogue Center in Oświęcim, where we will stay during the retreat, is fully included in your fee. 

Your fee does not include travel to Krakow or lodging in Krakow before (11/2) or after the retreat (11/7).

In general, Bearing Witness Retreat fees pay for:

  • Accommodations and meals during the retreat
  • Transportation during the retreat
  • In some cases, such as the Native American Retreat in South Dakota USA, building materials for the construction of facilities like toilets, showers, sewage, roads etc.
  • Council facilitation training for locals, including people serving the retreat and for sustained post-retreat work with the local community
  • Honorariums, travel and lodging costs of key figures and presenters
  • Travel and accommodation costs of new presenters for the Auschwitz Retreat
  • Scholarships for local participants
  • Scholarships for potential leaders at future bearing witness retreats and those with limited means
  • Pre-retreat planning and development trips for first-time retreats
  • Logistical and administrative costs of international staff (some staff work as a volunteers and are unpaid)

Profits from our Bearing Witness Retreats are used to cover the costs of other retreats with loss, split with other participating organizations, or towards future and ongoing projects of the Zen Peacemakers.

Zen Peacemakers encourages everyone to fundraise their participation by reaching out to close ones and friends and by that to include others in what otherwise may be a very personal journey. You will also raise awareness for whatever causes or issues attending this retreat will address for you.

2,500 years ago, it was the practice of the lay congregation to support monks through donations of food and clothing. Shakyamuni Buddha led his monks each morning in the practice of begging for their daily food. Each day’s offering was received with thanks regardless of its nature or size. In this way the Buddha encouraged simplicity, the generosity of both giving and receiving, and undiscriminating appreciation.

We continue this begging practice by raising support for our work by assembling a mala, or beads that are strung together and worn like a necklace. Each bead represents a person who supports that member’s vision and work, and the entire mala represents the Member’s community of support.

This is a practice of giving and receiving. By asking for support from family, friends, and associates, we acknowledge that as individuals, we are limited in what we can do. We depend on the generosity of others to increase our membership, train more peacemakers, and develop and support more programs. This is one more way in which we bear witness in the interdependence of life.

Another important aspect of mala practice is the incorporation of the ministry of money in our program. The assembly of malas ensures that money management and fundraising are not seen as foreign to peacemaking work; instead, the give-and-take of money is the compassionate, unobstructed flow of energy that nourishes and transforms our activities.

Mala practice also gives us the opportunity to share our work with our families, friends, and associates. Most of us lead professional work lives and have families. By raising money for our Socially Engaged Buddhist work, we publicize its activities, and most important, our own commitment. By wearing the beads we have assembled, we take our supporters with us in our peacemaking endeavors and on Bearing Witness retreats such as at Auschwitz, thus making family and friends an intimate part of this peacemaking journey.

Assemble a mala (not from your personal funds) consisting of 18 small beads and one Buddha (large) bead or one of 108 beads and dedicate each bead to each of your donors. Beads from individuals or from groups or families are equally appreciated. When they offer a bead, they will be working, training, studying and traveling with you wherever you go.

If the retreat is canceled by Zen Peacemakers, inc., registrants will receive full refunds of the paid registration fees.

If a registration is canceled by the participant by October 1st, 2020, more than one month (31 days) prior to the retreat start date, ZP will refund all but $100 of the paid fees – a cancelation fee to cover administration expenses.

If a registration is canceled by the participant by October 18th, 2020, 15-30 days before the start date of the workshop, ZP will refund all but $300 of the paid fees – a cancelation fee to cover administration expenses.

Fees are non refundable if a registration is cancelled by the participant after October 18th, 2020, within two weeks (14 days) of the start date of the retreat.

All refunds will be processed within 60 days of notification of cancellation.

If you roll-over your tuition from one year to the next, a refund will not be given if you decide not to attend the following year.

2020 Participants attend registration check-in evening on Sunday November 1st in Krakow, leave Krakow Monday morning November 2nd to Oświęcim and return to Krakow on Saturday morning November 7th, 2020. Your retreat tuition covers all lodging, food and travel from the beginning of the retreat itself on Monday November 2nd: lodging/food for the night of November 1st is not provided.


ARRIVAL: Arrive to Krakow for the Sunday 11/1 registration check-in between 5:30-7pm.

DEPARTURE: Make travel arrangements to leave from Krakow Airport (KRK) or train station no sooner than 12pm on November 7th. Shuttles will take all wishing participants from the retreat’s site and drop them off 1st at Krakow airport by 10am, 2nd at the train station and 3rd at the city center by 12pm.

Travel Encouragement:

Arrive a few days before to adjust after your travel, explore beautiful Krakow and leave at least a day later to allow integration of your retreat experience before returning home.

Also, make arrangements no sooner than May 1st 2020, to comply with any unlikely changes in this schedule.

When you participate in a Bearing Witness retreat, you enter a carefully crafted container held by various teams:

Spirit Holders learn and listen to the pulse of the retreat during the retreat, and adjust the schedule accordingly. This role is specific to the retreat they have been chosen for. They review the retreat structure and schedule and make recommendations for changes. The Spirit Holders include (1) individuals whose lives are deeply infused with the place and theme of the retreat, (2) Zen teachers or Masters with extensive experience in the practice and teaching of the Three Tenets and (3) Those with a particular role, such as Head of Logistical Staff and Head Council Trainer.

Below, 2019 Spirit Holders pictured L to R: Roshi Genro Gauntt (USA); Roshi Barbara Weggmueller (Switzerland); Roshi Cornelius Collande (Germany)






Staff serves the needs of the retreat and its participants by translating the direction of the spirit holders into action. Half of our staff consists of local people with a personal connection to the place of the retreat; the other half are highly trained ZPO members.

Below, 2019 Retreat Staff pictured L to R: Rami Efal (USA/Israel), ZPI Executive Director;  Tani Katz (Israel), Staff Team Leader;  Joanna Yakubowitz (Poland), National Coordinator;  Lilli Moesler (Germany), registration coordinator;  Mikko Ijäs (Finland), Retreat Staff.






Clergy. The retreat’s intent is to be multi-faith and respectful of all spiritual paths. The retreat Clergy are designated leaders of faiths, entrusted with specific liturgical and ceremonial aspects of the retreat schedule.  They are also available as resources to the participants during the retreat.

Below, 2019 clergy pictured L to R: Fr. Manfred Deselaers (Germany);  Sr. Mary O’Sullivan (Ireland), Sensei Koho Mello (Brazil/Switzerland); Taya Mâ Shere (USA)


Council Facilitators lead the daily council groups- sharing circles that give space for sharing one’s experience of the retreat with others. These facilitators have trained with the Center for Council and are under the guidance and supervision of the head council trainer.  The facilitator team will be decided before the start of the retreat. 

The Administration team develops, plans and manages the budget, marketing and schedule for each retreat from its inception to the actual start of the retreat. They continuously evaluate and determine whether a retreat is financially feasible.

Dialogue Center Staff maintains our lodging facilities, prepares and serves our hearty and healthy meals.

Celebration of diversity has been a hallmark of the Zen Peacemakers Bearing Witness Retreats and in particular at Auschwitz-Birkenau, once a symbol of extreme intolerance towards others. Through the years the Zen Peacemakers have hosted countless nationalities, faiths and ethnicities on the retreat. Donations towards this fund will be extended towards those from diverse backgrounds to contribute to the multifaceted experience of the retreat. Donation towards this fund will also ensure the attendance of those challenged financially to gather the cost of tuition. 

Scholarships are available to individuals on a personal basis, are reviewed by ZP Staff and usually become available 60 days before the retreat.

Memorial Candles are available for suggest donation of $18 per candle. During the retreat, there will be a dedicated time to receive and present your candle.

Donation can be done online on our Donation Page. Please add ‘Candle & Diversity Fund’ in the comments. 

Zen Peacemakers, Inc. is a 501(c)3 tax exempt organization for your tax purposes.

Not Knowing, Bearing Witness and Taking Action. These are the principles of the Zen Peacemakers and the foundation of this retreat. This workshop is an experiential introduction to these principles, led by the retreat’s co-leaders, Zen Masters Barbara WegmĂĽller, Genro Gauntt and Cornelius Collande. This is a rare opportunity to explore together with three of Bernie Glassman’s successors and their years of experience in plunges and bearing witness retreats.

It will take place at the Royal Hotel on Saturday, 10/31 from 9:30am till 4:30pm. The cost of this one-day workshop is $200. Your fee supports the expenses of the retreat and contributes to scholarships available to those of limited means. Registration can be completed using the retreat registration form (coming soon).  Or, click on the following link and provide payment: https://zenpeacemakers.org/giving/. In the comment line please write “Three Tenets Workshop, Poland 2020.” 

We recommend you tour Krakow before or after the retreat to add to your experience. Self-guided tours or guides are available – the tours are not included in your fee.

Krakow Tour – 

  1. Main Square, including: Sukiennice (the Cloth Hall), the old city hall tower, and the houses around the square
  2. Mariacki Cathedral and square next to it with a fountain.  Every hour you can hear the Mariacki bugle-call
  3. Take Grocka Str. and from there turn into Kannonicza Str.
  4. Wawel Hill with the castle and the cathedral, and the dragon cave nearby
  5. Take the path through Blonia (green park around the Main Square) along Święta Gertruda Str. (Saint Gertruda Str.) till Sienna Str. turn to Mały Rynek (the Small Square) and follow Florianska Str.
  6. Go to the end of Florianska Str. and go to Florianska Gate: there you can see the old city walls
  7. Barbakan
  8. Go back to ĹšwiÄ™tego Jana Str. (Saint John Str.) – Czartoryski Museum with Leonardo da Vinci painting “Lady with the Ermine”
  9. Świętego Tomasza Str. (Saint Thomas Str.) and Szczepanski Square with The Old Theatre
  10. Collegium Maius of Jagiellonian University, 15 Jagiellonska Str.

Special attractions:

1. Rynek Undergroung permament exhibition (two hours’ tour)


2. “Wieliczka” Salt Mine (half a day trip; 30 min by car to Wieliczka town)


3. Sanctuary of Misericordia Cracow-Lagiewniki (3 hours) 

To get there: tram line number 8 or 10 from the city center


Restaurants & Cafe recommendations (around the Old Town):

Hawelka, 34 Main Square

Chimera, 3 Święta Anna Str. (Saint Anna Str.)

Wedel Cafe, 46 Main Square (hot chocolate specialty)

Camelot, 17 Święty Tomasz Str. (Saint Tomas Str.)

Jama Michalika, 45 Florianska Str.

Pod Różą, 14 Florianska Str.

Charlotte, 2 Szczepanski Square

Prowincja Nowa Cafe, 3-5 Bracka Str.

Karma, 12 Krupnicza Str. (veggie bar & cafe)

Pod Norenami, 6 Krupnicza Str. (veggie)

Bona Cafe, 11 Kanonicza Str.


Jewish History Path – 1 day tour, but if you do not have much time you can just visit the most significant places (marked in bold )

Kazimierz District:

1. The Old Synagogue, 24 Szeroka Str.

2. The Small Synagogue (Popper Synagogue), 16 Szeroka Str.

3. The New Synagogue (Remu Synagogue, the only active synagogue) with the old Jewish cementery, 40 Szeroka Str.

4. The new Jewish cementary, 55 Miodowa Str.

5. The Temple Synogogue, 24 Miodowa Str.

6. Jewish Square (Plac Żydowski) take Estery Street

7. The Kupa Synagogue, 8 Warszauera Str.

8. The Izaaka Jakubowicza Synagogue, 16 Kupa Str.

9. The High Synagogue, 38 Jozefa Str.

10. Galicja Jewish Museum, 18 Dajwor Str.

Take: Saint Wawrzynca Str., Gazowa Str. and Podgorska Str. to 11

11. Kladka Bernatka Bridge, Podgorska Str.

Podgorze District:

12. Plac BohaterĂłw Getta – Square of the Heros of the Ghetto

Take Jozefinska Str. and Targowa Str.

13. Museum “Apteka pod OrĹ‚em” – The Pharmacy under the Eagle

18 Plac Bohaterów Getta 

Take street: Na ZjeĹşdzie, KÄ…cik and Lipowa to

14. Schindler’s Factory Emalia – Museum, 4 Lipowa Str.


Restaurants & Cafe recommendation:

Kazimierz District:

Mlynek Cafe, 7 Wolnica Square – highly recommended – (vege & jewish)

Momo, 49 Dietla Str. (vege)

Alchemia, 5 Estert Str.

Polakowski, 39 Miodowa Str.

Singer Cafe, 20 Estery Str.

Kolory Cafe, 10 Estery Str.

Mleczarnia Cafe, 20 Meiselsa Str.

Artistic Cake Gallery Cafe, 22 Bozego Ciała Str.

Marchewka z Groszkiem, 2 Mostowa Str.

Vanilla Cafe, 13 Brzozowa


PodgĂłrze District:

Cafe Rękawka, 4B Brodzinskiego Str.

Makaroniarnia, 3 Brodzinskiego Str.

Zakładka, 2 Józefinska Str.

Cava Cafe, 1 Nadwiślańska Str.

For more information, please contact: [email protected]

Hotel Royal will be the home-base for our retreat in Krakow and we recommend you stay there. Participants are responsible for paying their own bill before departure from the hotel.

Hotel Royal Krakow
26-29 Saint Gertruda Str.
phone: +48 12 421 35 00

[email protected]

Other hotels:

Hotel Campanile Krakow
34 Saint Tomas Str.
phone: +48 12 424 26 00

13 Grodzka Str.
phone: 0048 662 099 640

Hotel Pollera
20 Szpitalna Str.
phone: 0048 12 422 10 44

Hotel Polski pod Białym Orłem
17 Pijarska Street
phone: 0048 12 261 38 30

Hotel Wenzl
19 Main Square
phone: 0048 12 430 26 64

Cafe Młynek B&B
7 Plac Wolnica, Kazimierz District
phone: 0048 12 43 06 202

Budget Lodgings:

Goodbye Lenin Revolution Hostel
9 Dolnych MĹ‚ynĂłw Street, Kazimierz District
phone:  0048 12 421 20 30 or 0048 12 341 46 66

Trzy Kafki Hostel
29 Aleje Slowackiego
phone: 0048 12 632 94 18

Many, many books have been published concerning the Holocaust. Those listed below are particularly recommended because they are very powerful personal accounts of bearing witness and/or raise complex moral and spiritual issues. For first time attendees, we highly recommend that you read at least one of the following books before attending the Auschwitz Bearing Witness Retreat:

Personal Testimonies

Ka-Tzetnik 135633, Shivitti: A Vision (A must read – recommend by Bernie Glassman)

Primo Levi, Survival in Auschwitz (also published as If This Is a Man)

Elie Wiesel, Night

Etty Hillesum, An Interrupted Life: The Diaries of Etty Hillesum 1941- 1943

Charlotte Delbo, Auschwitz and After

Claude Lanzmann, Shoah – An Oral History of the Holocaust

Jean-Francois Steiner, Treblinka

Wladyslaw Szpilman, The Pianist: The Extraordinary True Story of One Man’s Survival in Warsaw, 1939-1945

Ka-Tzetnik 135633. Kaddish

Rudolf Hoess, Commandant of Auschwitz: The Autobiography of Rudolf Hoess

Essays, treatises, contemplations

Primo Levi, The Drowned and the Saved

Jean Amery, At the Mind’s Limits: Contemplations by a Survivor on Auschwitz and Its Realities

Helen Epstein, Children of the Holocaust: Conversations with Sons and Daughters

of Survivors

Lawrence L. Langer, Admitting the Holocaust: Collected Essays

Lawrence L. Langer, Holocaust Testimonies: The Ruins of Memory

Simon Wiesenthal, The Sunflower: On the Possibilities and Limits of Forgiveness


Laurence Rees, Auschwitz: A New History

Literary Works

Tadeusz Borowski, This Way for the Gas, Ladies and Gentlemen

Yaffa Eliach, Hassidic Tales of the Holocaust

Markus Zusak, The Book Thief

Nicole Krauss, The History of Love

Bernhard Schlink, The Reader

Ursula Hegi, Stones from the River


Again, a lot of films have been made connected to the holocaust. This selection is personal. We have tried to include films made in various countries.

Son of Saul (László Nemes; Hungary 2015)

Schindler’s List (Steven Spielberg; USA 1993)

The Pianist (Roman Polanski ; Poland, France, Germany, UK 2002)

Elle s’appelait Sarah (Sarah’s Key) (Gilles Paquet-Brenner; France 2010)

La vita è bella (Life is Beautiful) (Roberto Benigni ; Italy 1997)

Lore (Cate Shortland; Australia, Germany, UK 2012)

Au revoir les enfants (Goodbye, Children) (Louis Malle; France 1987)

Sophie Scholl – Die letzten Tage (The Final Days) (Marc Rothemund ; Germany 2005)

Nuit et brouillard (Night and Fog) (Alain Resnais ; France 1955 – documentary)

For more information, please contact Lilli Mösler in Germany at [email protected], Tel: (+49) 173-776-6255


Geoff O’keeffee in the United States at [email protected], Tel +1(917) 633-9550

In 2020, the Bearing Witness Retreat at Auschwitz-Birkenau will take place from November 2-7.

Forthcoming retreat dates:

2021- November 1st-6th

2022-October 31st- November 6th

We’ve begun collecting stories of the Auschwitz retreat from outside sources. This section will be updated continually: