Ravensbrück Retreat for Women

to be held on the grounds of the former Ravensbrück concentration camp for women
(the main language will be English)
29th of Mai to 2nd of June 2017


At the center of Nazi-ideology lay the annihilation of any "unworthy" life. During the Nazi-Reign a machinery of exploitation and extermination of human beings was installed through a network of concentration camps.

In Ravensbrück the Nazis installed a concentration camp for women.
The women that were brought to Ravensbrück came from over 40 nations. These women were part of the resistance and political opposition, working as artists, politicians or writers. Jewish women, Sinti and Roma women were detained there.

The history of women has been researched since the 1960s. At that time, women recognized that they wanted and needed their own view of this history. They decided to create their own view of their "HerStory".

When we remember and honor our ancestors, we learn the facts, bear witness to our own feelings of this "HerStory" and experience that we are part of a lineage of women impacted by this era.

We become aware of the diversity of women and the different role models and myths that impact our gender and our understanding of who we are. Many women before us prepared the ground on which we stand and form our lives.

An essential part of our history is the women of Ravensbrück: those who were killed for their acts of resistance and opposition to the Nazi regime; those who had a lifestyle that was deemed "unworthy" by the Nazi regime; those who got into the Nazi system of extermination by accident and those who were part of any group of people that the Nazis considered as "unworthy to live".

We will also reflect on the many women who willingly joined the Nazi regime, served the regime of destruction, were an active part of it and allowed themselves to be seduced by the Nazi regime - these women too, are part of our collective history as women.

National Socialism left many scars and had a major impact on private and public lives of women, including: shame, guilt, fear, defensiveness, belittlement, denial and recrimination.
The urge to explain how it could come to "this" is part of any discussion or examination. How can ordinary human beings become the murderers of helpless women, children, men? What specific circumstances were part of it?
Is this evil an exception of human nature or something inherent in human nature?

And what has all this to do with how we live our present lives? How is social development impacted?
What forms of commemoration encourages us to become more responsible, independent, awake, and embody loving actions in our lives and our communities?

How can we engage with the truth in the face of such incomprehensible cruelty that humans suffered at the hands other humans?

In this retreat, we will not so much look for answers but, together find the courage to face these questions in their complexity. We may find answers, we may find there are no answers.

We will approach the former concentration camp of Ravensbrück in multiple ways in this 5-day retreat.

There will be daily periods of silence and meditation on the grounds of Ravensbrück. We will commemorate those women, who were killed, who's names are known and who's names are forgotten.
We will meet survivors and will have the chance to listen to them telling their story.
The staff of the memorial place will provide information about special topics, for example, the prosecution of lesbian women, the history of the concentration camp and of the prosecution and extermination of girls and young women. We will meet twice daily in a circle to share our experiences.

The retreat will take place on the location of the former concentration camp. The retreat is inspired by Sylvia Wetzel, as well as the annual, Zen Peacemaker, Bearing Witness Retreats at Auschwitz founded by Bernie Glassman.

The retreat will be partly in silence.
The main language will be english.
All women can participate regardless of their religious background. Previous meditation experience is not required.
We will be housed at the Youth Hostel: "Jugendherberge Ravensbrück".

If you are interested in this retreat or for further information please contact:
Lily Besilly: lilx besilly
Katharina Schmidt: Katharina Schmidt

Lily Besilly was authorized in 2008 as meditation teacher by Sylvia Wetzel. She leads meditation retreats, some about the female Buddha Tara.
Apart from her interests in buddhism and art, learning and teaching both for and amongst women is a special concern for her. She is mainly concerned with the relation of forms of communication with a Buddhist base, such as non-violent communication and its impact and transformative power on the daily lives of women.

Katharina Schmidt has been a student of Sylvia Wetzel for many Years. She deals intensively with the subjects of spirituality, western psychology and feminism. In 2010, Katharina participated in the annual, Zen Peacemaker, Bearing Witness Retreat at Auschwitz founded with Roshi Bernie Glassman.
For years she has been working on the issue of the aftermath of the Nazi Holocaust.
Through her background in social work she has had a lot of experience in working with traumatized people through different forms of psychiatry. She works on connecting her experiences there with the buddhist path.

Mariola Wereszka is a student of Malgosia Roshi of the Kanzeon Sangha in Poland and is involved with the Zen Peacemakers. For he last five years she's been a member of the staff group of the Bearing Witness Retreat at Auschwitz.
In 2010 and 2011 she also participated in Interfaith Conference in Amman & Lublin.
She has a 10-years experience of working as a psychotherapist and a coach. She lives in Krakow.

Retreat Fee: 100,00 €
Food & Lodging from 29. May -02. June, 2017: 132,00
Dana (voluntary donation for the facilitators): suggested donation: 150,00 – 300,00€ (payable on site)

Application to Katharina Schmidt
Application deadline: March 10th, 2017 (this is when we need to make the reservation at the Hostel)

The retreat starts on Monday, May 29th at 14:00h (2pm) ending on Friday, June 2nd after lunch.
Please let us know if you are planning to arrive on the Sunday before the retreat.

By rail to Fürstenberg/Havel. From there it is a 25 minute walk to the memorial site and the youth hostel – or take a taxi. For more information: www.ravensbrueck.de

After your application we will send more information.

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