Mitglied der Association Bouddhiste Zen d'Europe
Mitglied der Deutschen Buddhistischen Union
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 died.
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.
We sincerely invite you to take part in the sesshin at Weimar-Buchenwald!
Heinz-Jürgen Metzger und Ines Steggewentze
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