Bearing Witness Retreat

November 17 - 23, 2024

Since Bernie Glassman, Jishu Holmes, Eve Marko and Andrezej Krajewski began the annual Bearing Witness Retreat at the old site of the death camps of Auschwitz-Birkenau in Oświęcim, Poland in 1996, the Zen Peacemakers have been returning for over twenty-five years to continue to bear witness to oneness in diversity, in the place that became a mythic symbol of humanity’s tendency to intolerance. Much has been written about these annual retreats; at least half a dozen films have been made about them in various languages. Not confined to Buddhists, Zen Peacemakers members, or only those who have been affected by the place and the narrative surrounding it — the retreat at Auschwitz-Birkenau is open to all, is multi-faith and multinational in character, and has a strong focus on the Zen Peacemakers’ Three Tenets: ¹Not-Knowing, ²Bearing Witness, and ³Taking Action that arises from Not-Knowing and Bearing Witness.

Most of each day is spent sitting by the train tracks at Birkenau, both in silence and in chanting the names of the dead. We walk through the vast camps, perform vigils and memorial services inside the barracks. Participants meet daily in small Council groups designed to create a safe place for people to share their inner experiences, and evening programs are specifically designed to address the needs of the whole.

Throughout the years the Auschwitz Retreat, Zen Peacemakers’ flagship annual event, has become the gathering place of Zen Peacemakers from all around the world.

Koho Mello

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Retreat Info

Registration Information

Eve Marko

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Covid Information

We support our attendees’ concern for security and safety and we require all those registering to provide a photo image of their Covid vaccination card. We will, of course, follow the Covid regulations in place at the time of the retreat on site as well. Every country may have different regulations and types of certificates needed for entry/exit/re-entry at different times. For example, some countries have required proof of testing negative (with a an antigen test or a nucleic acid amplification test (NAAT)) 3 days prior to re-entry. This may change; however, participants are asked to be aware of the regulation updates for their destination. Please be advised that the testing fees are not included in the retreat fees. Although costs will be covered personally, we will assist in making this service accessible. 
Please keep abreast of the travel restrictions due to Covid-19 and make your travel arrangements wisely, purchasing either a fully refundable ticket, a travel insurance policy, or both.

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