Auschwitz-Birkenau: Bearing Witness

November 17th - November 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.

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Bearing Witness Retreat Info
Registration Information

To register, please (Click Here) and fill out the Auschwitz Participation Form. This form provides important information when purchasing your Retreat Ticket. Once submitted you can proceed to payment options.

Retreat Information

ARRIVAL: Please arrange to attend the Arrival Registration in Krakow, Sunday November 17th, between 6:00 – 7:00pm. All Participants will need to book their own hotel room for November 17th (see below for options).

DEPARTURE: Please make travel arrangements to leave from Krakow Airport (KRK) or train station no sooner than 12pm on November 23rd. Shuttles will take all wishing participants from the retreat’s site and drop off 1st at Krakow airport, 2nd at train station and 3rd at 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.


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 )
A map of these locations can be found HERE

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 Bohaterów Getta – Square of the Heros of the Ghetto

Take Jozefinska Str. and Targowa Str.

13. Museum “Apteka pod Orłem” – The Pharmacy under the Eagle

18 Plac Bohaterów Getta 

Take street: Na Zjeździe, Kącik and Lipowa to

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


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


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.

Questions regarding retreat program:

Questions regarding retreat registration and payment: