Buchenwald-Sesshin October 25.-29.,
Construction of Buchenwald
concentration camp began in 1937 several kilometers north of Weimar,
a city associated with the names of Cranach, Goethe, Schiller,
Bach, Liszt, Gropius, Kandinsky, Klee. Initially the camp was
intended for political opponents of the Nazi regime, previously
convicted criminals, ”antisocial” men, Jews, Jehovah
Witnesses, and homosexuals. At the start of World War II, people
from the Soviet Union, France, Italy, Belgium, Luxembourg, the
Netherlands, Norway, and Denmark were brought there. At the beginning
of 1945 the camp was the end of the line for evacuation transports
out of the extermination camp Auschwitz.
Unlike Auschwitz, Buchenwald was not an extermination camp.
Prisoners were forced to do slave labour, and many were worked
to death. Prisoners also died of malnutrition and disease, as
well as from medical experiments or at the whim of the SS. All
in all, 250,000 people were imprisoned, of whom more than 50,000
In Buchenwald more than 8,000 Soviet prisoners of war were
executed by special units of the SS upon orders of the supreme
command of the Wehrmacht. When units of the US 3rd Army arrived
on April 11, 1945, the SS fled and the prisoners opened the
camp from the inside. Between August 1945 and February 1950
Soviet security forces used part of the camp. Nearly 30,000
people were imprisoned, of whom more than 7,000 died.
At this place of suffering and dying, but also of hope and
resistance we will sit in Zazen, the posture in which the Buddha
realized awakening. Sitting in silence at this place doesn’t
mean to ignore what has happened here – and what still
happens in other forms elsewhere. Being silent allows us to
go beyond all categories and to touch our true nature, Buddha-Nature.
We will work at the site of the former camp, have Buddhist
ceremonies and recite texts of the Soto-Zen-Tradition.
There will be time to learn more about the history of Buchenwald
and time to share the feelings and thoughts we have.
I sincerely invite you to take part in the sesshin at Weimar-Buchenwald!