Conference: European Victims and Perpetrators
Now and Then An Experiential Working Conference in the Series “The Past in the Present”
August 27 – September 1 2014, Kliczków Castle, Poland

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Administrative Information
  • Sponsoring Organizations

    German Psychoanalytic Association (DPV)
    German Psychoanalytic Society (DPG)
    Israel Psychoanalytic Society (IPS)
    International Psychoanalytic Association (IPA)
    OFEK – The Israel Association for the Study of Group and Organizational Processes
    Polish Psychoanalytical Society (PPS)
    The Tavistock Institute (TI)


    Europe today is undergoing severe crises, seriously affecting European national identity, economic security and financial stability. The dream of a unified peaceful Europe appears to be receding and increasingly threatened. Yet the present instability and strife are rooted in Europe's past and its painful history. This conference aims to uncover the present impact of these historical traumas.

    The shadows and painful residues of World War II deeply affect people and nations across Europe and elsewhere. The injuries inflicted by Europe’s shared history derive from the traumas of Fascism, Nazi Germany and the Holocaust, communist dictatorships and national oppression, and the impact of ethnic tensions, leading to the recent rise of Neo-Nazism, xenophobia and terror. The pain and suffering fed by the horrors of war, occupation, massacres and betrayals are all alive, even if hidden, in individuals and subgroups. Religious, ethnic and racial intolerance, as well as accelerating economic hardship and cultural imperialism continue to give rise to aggression and victimization. The impact of this anguish is constantly transmitted from one generation to the next. It shapes contemporary struggles within European society, underlies and intensifies financial and economic crises, and its fallout reaches far beyond European borders.

    Major atrocities and other forms of historical trauma can produce profound and deeply lodged suspicion, hostility and enmity between victims and perpetrators. In turn, these ill feelings are transmitted and infiltrate the lives of their descendants. They permeate the relationship between the groups involved, laying the foundation for perpetual hostility and repeated conflict. The burden of both victimhood and perpetration, and perhaps no less of being a bystander, often exercise their destructive influence outside our awareness, and we can find ourselves puzzled, confused and upset by their impact on our lives. 

    This residential conference aims to allow participants to work on experiences and residues of such traumas, whether as victims, perpetrators or bystanders. It is designed for people who are puzzled by and curious about their history and wish to know more about its impact on their personal lives, on the groups they belong to, and on the local, national and international attitudes that are shaped by and reflect these dynamics. Often these are met in the form of overt or covert prejudices, stereotypes, fantasies and fears.

    Away from the pressures of everyday life, the conference provides a safe setting for such forces to emerge, and opportunities to explore how they may be understood. It is also an opportunity to discover whether genuine movement in the real, lived relationships between members of such groups may be possible.


    This conference continues the exploration of the residual effects and aftermath of horrendous atrocities on the national groups that perpetrated them or were their victims. This series, referred to sometimes as the "Nazareth Conferences", focused initially on the shadow cast by the Holocaust on Germans and Israelis. It began with the need felt by a group of Israeli and German psychoanalysts to work on the deeply-lodged suspicion, hostility and unbearable guilt which marked the relationship between Germans and Israelis/Jews as a legacy of the Holocaust. The Group Relations approach was chosen as the best suited working method and adapted to this specific end. The first three conferences were held in Israel and Germany, and their story – contained in a recently published book – relates how the Group Relations method was modified for this purpose. The book gives examples of the impact and significance of these events on the German and Israeli/Jewish participants, many of whom were helped to repair a relationship that had been catastrophically damaged by the Holocaust. The fourth and fifth conferences included "affected Others" and were held in Cyprus. The sixth and seventh conferences in the same venue were extended to include Palestinians. Participants who worked on this interface and its effect on their personal and professional life found this work hugely beneficial, and many returned for a further opportunity to deepen their engagement with the process.

    Aim of the Conference

    The aim of the conference is to provide a setting, away from the pressures of daily life, in which participants can experience, reflect, explore and begin to work with the unconscious and not-quite conscious factors involved in the relationships, in the mind and in actuality, between the individuals and groups present at the conference.

    Living and working together for six days provides opportunities to examine past and present psychic and social processes from different angles, to become aware of attitudes, feelings, reactions and fantasies, to reconsider one’s identity as a member of a group, to express and explore existing ideas as well as new ones, to apply and test all these within the conference, and subsequently to take them home for future application in professional and other roles.

    The Primary Task

    To provide opportunities for participants to explore how the full range of feelings, fantasies and experiences about 'victims' and 'perpetrators' shape relations within and between individuals and groups in the conference, and how they affect and influence perceptions of the past, the present and the future.


    Group relations conferences are experiential events. Inner thoughts, feelings and fantasies about oneself as a participant and as a member of one (or more) of the groups within the conference are the raw materials that every individual brings to the work of the conference. The conference provides a setting in which these can be experienced, explored and worked with, in oneself, within groups, between groups, and within the conference as a whole. Much of this work is carried out in the here and now.

    The work of the conference is done in groups. Most groups will have one or more consultants, whose role is not to lead the group but to facilitate the group’s working on the primary task of the conference. Consultants do so by focusing on the dynamics and the work of the group as a whole, rather than on the individuals within it. There is no teaching of the conventional kind, and what each individual participant learns cannot be predicted in advance, as it depends on the extent and nature of the individual’s participation in the ongoing process.


    This residential conference invites people from the nations of Europe and elsewhere – from all walks of life and all ages – who recognize the painful residues of war and historical trauma and are puzzled by their impact on them. No previous experience of this kind of conference is necessary except the wish to learn from one's experience of membership and to participate in the events of the conference.

    The Role of Staff

    The Staff are a significant element in the conference. They are not mere observers of the process but have an active involvement in it. However, they also have specific tasks and roles. The staff collectively forms the conference management, with authority and responsibility for setting the boundary conditions of task, territory and time – the work, the where and the when of events – that are essential for enabling participants to engage in the primary task of the conference. In addition, individual staff members take up specific directorial, administrative and consultant roles. In their consultant roles, based on their own experience and observations, staff members will offer working hypotheses about what is happening in the 'here and now' of the event, with the aim of focusing attention on group processes and their impact on participants learning.

    The Program

    The conference working day will usually begin at 7:45 and end at 21:30. However, on the first day (27 August 2014) the Opening Plenary will begin at 15:00. On the last day (1 September 2014) the final event will end at 12:30. In addition, one evening slot (from 18:00 onwards) and one afternoon slot (14:30 to 16:00) will be left free. The working day will be interspersed with breaks for breakfast (8:45-9:30), lunch (13:00 to 14:30), coffee (10:30-11:00; 16:00-16:30) and dinner (18:00-20:00).

    The primary task of the conference is pursued through several different types of events, including:

    Small Study Groups (SSG). These are groups of about 8-12 members with a consultant. The task is to study what unfolds in the group in the 'here and now', while working on the primary task of the conference.

    Large Study Group (LSG). This group brings together the entire membership with several consultants. The task of this group is to study the ‘here and now' of the large group process as it unfolds, while working on the primary task of the conference.

    System Event (SE). The SE provides a setting in which members can explore and study the nature of their relatedness to their own group and to other groups present in the system. The event will start with members forming groups.

    The aim of the event is to shed light on the ongoing processes of establishing and developing relationships within the system as a whole, and to explore how belonging to a group and what develops between groups is related to the primary task and the dynamics of victimhood and perpetration. This is a 'here and now event' in which all participants are involved. Staff will take part as a management group and will also make consultancy available. The final session will be a plenary aimed at reviewing and exploring the event as a whole.

    Plenaries (P). Plenaries involve all members and all staff. The Opening Plenary introduces the conference and provides an opportunity for participants to enter into the conference, to explore and reflect on the experience of doing so and taking up roles within it. The Closing Plenary aims to review the conference experience and to work on the process of ending.

    Review and Application Groups (RAG). Depending on the conference membership, there will be about 5-7 members of the same background in each group. Each group will have its own consultant. The purpose is to enable members to examine and reflect on the different roles they have taken up within the conference. It also aims to help members articulate their experience of the conference and to link it with their personal and professional roles in their home environment.

    Social Dreaming Matrix (SDM). This is an open meeting in which dreams can be shared, associated to and reflected on as the dreams of the entire system. It will take place every morning (except for the last day) before breakfast. The event is open to all participants, members and staff, and staff “hosts” will be provided.

    Additional events or modifications of the above events may take place, depending on the conference composition and dynamics.

    A detailed timetable of the events will be available at the beginning of the conference.

    Conference Management & Staff

    Conference Director Shmuel Erlich, PhD

    Training and Supervising Analyst and past-President, Israel Psychoanalytic Society; Psychoanalyst in private practice and Consultant to Organizations; Sigmund Freud Professor of Psychoanalysis (Emeritus), The Hebrew University of Jerusalem; Board Representative, IPA; Founding Member, OFEK, PCCA; Israel.

    Conference Associate Director Dorothee C. von Tippelskirch-Eissing, PhD

    Dipl. Psych., psychoanalyst in private practice; President of the Karl-Abraham-Institute, Berlin Psychoanalytic Institute (BPI); Board member of the German Psychoanalytic Association (DPV); Member of the International Psychoanalytic Association (IPA); Member of Partners in Confronting Collective Atrocities (PCCA); Germany.

    Conference Administrator Yael Sharon, MA

    Medical psychologist and organizational consultant. Medical psychologist at Tel Aviv Sorasky Medical Center Ichilov. Founder and director of the Israeli Institute of Medical Psychology. Moderator of projects and workshops on preventing burnout among medical teams in organizations; OFEK; Israel.


    David Armstrong, BA 

    Associate Consultant, Tavistock Consulting, The Tavistock and Portman NHS Foundation Trust; Distinguished Member, The International Society for the Psychoanalytic Study of Organizations; UK.

    Louisa Diana Brunner, MSc

    Leadership, Management and Organisational Consultant, Executive and Career Coach, Family Business Advisor; Board Member and Treasurer, PCCA; Honorary Member, Il Nodo Group; Member: CSGSS, the Boston Affiliate of AKRI, Family Firm Institute, ISPSO, OFEK, OPUS; Italy.

    M. Fakhry Davids, MSc., TQAP

    Clinical Psychologist, Psychoanalyst and Psychoanalytic Psychotherapist in full time practice in London; Supervising and Training Analyst of the British Psychoanalytic Society and Fellow of the Institute of Psychoanalysis; Member of the Tavistock Society of Psychotherapists, and Founding Board Member of PCCA; UK.

    Shmuel Erlich

    Veronika Grueneisen, PhD

    Psychoanalyst in private practice; Supervisor and Training Analyst, German Psychoanalytic Society (DPG/IPA); Chairperson, PCCA; Organizational Consultant, Member AOCS (Tavistock Institute’s Advanced Organizational Consultation Society); Member, OPUS (Organization for Promoting Understanding in Society); Germany.

    Saliem Khliefi, BA

    Social worker, Group Therapist, Psychotherapist, and Organizational Consultant; Israel Prison Services (IPS); Board Member, OFEK ; Israel.

    Ross A. Lazar, BA (Honours), MAT

    Trained as Psychoanalytic Child and Adolescent Psychotherapist and Family Therapist at the Tavistock Clinic and Tavistock Institute of Human Relations and Marlborough Hospital, London; Member, ISPSO, ACP (Association of Child Psychotherapists, UK), Opus (UK) and VAKJP; Germany.

    Karin Lüders, Dipl. Psych.

    Clinical psychologist, in private practice in Frankfurt a/M; Psychoanalyst, member of DPV and IPA; Teaching and Supervising Analyst, Frankfurt Psychoanalytic Institute; Member, PCCA; Germany.

    Allan Shafer, MA (Clinical Psychology), D Litt et Phil

    Socio-analyst and Clinical Psychologist in Melbourne, Australia. Organizational consultant with Innovative Practice Consulting; psychoanalytic psychotherapist and clinical supervisor in private practice. President of Group Relations Australia; Member, ISPSO; Past-President, the Association for Psychoanalytic Psychotherapy of Western Australia; Member, The Victorian Association for Psychoanalytic Psychotherapy; past Executive Member of the Psychoanalytic Psychotherapy Association of Australasia; Australia.

    Iwona Sołtysińska, MA

    Psychologist, OD Consultant, Coach, Content Director and Board Member of Jagiellonian University Extension. Member of ISPSO and National Representative of OPUS, with particular interest in group dynamics; Poland.

    Dorothee C. von Tippelskirch-Eissing


    *Will be drawn from this list 

    Selected Bibliography

    Armstrong, D. (2005) Organization in the Mind: Psychoanalysis, Group Relations, and Organizational Consultancy. London: Karnac.

    Beland, H. Collective Mourning – Who or What Frees a Collective to Mourn?

    Brunner, L. D., Nutkevitch, A. & Sher, M. (2006) Group Relations Conferences: Reviewing and Exploring Theory, Design, Role-Taking and Application. London: Karnac. 

    Brunning, H. & Perini, M. (2009) Psychoanalytic Perspectives on a Turbulent World. London: Karnac.

    Erlich, H. S. (2001) Enemies within and without: Paranoia and regression in groups and organizations. In: L. J. Gould, L. F. Stapley, and M. Stein (Eds.), The Systems Psychodynamics of Organizations. London: Karnac, pp. 115-131.

    Erlich, H. S. (2013) The Couch in the Marketplace: Psychoanalysis and Social Reality. London: Karnac.

    Erlich-Ginor, M. (2003) Sliding houses in the Promised Land: unstable reality worked through dreams. In W. G. Lawrence (ed.), Experiences in Social Dreaming. London: Karnac, pp. 157-178.

    Erlich, H. S., Erlich-Ginor, M. & Beland, H. (2009) Fed with Tears – Poisoned with Milk. The "Nazareth" Group-Relations-Conferences: Germans and Israelis: The Past in the Present. Psychosozial Verlag: Gießen.

    Erlich, H. S., Erlich-Ginor, M. & Beland, H. (2009) Gestillt mit Tränen – Vergiftet mit Milch. Die Nazareth-Gruppenkonferenzen: Deutsche und Israelis – Die Vergangenheit ist gegenwärtig. Psychosozial Verlag: Gießen.

    Erlich, H. S., Erlich-Ginor, M. & Beland, H. (2009) Being in Berlin: A large group experience in the Berlin Congress. Int J Psychoanal, 90:809–825.

    Khaleelee, O. & Miller, E. J. (2000) Beyond the small group: society as an intelligible field of study. In M. Pines (Ed.), Bion and Group Psychotherapy. London: Jessica Kingsley Publishers, pp. 354-380.

    Lawrence, G. W. (2005) Introduction to Social Dreaming. London: Karnac.

    Miller, E. J. (1985) The politics of involvement. In A. Colman & M. Geller (Eds.), Group Relations Reader, Vol. 2. Washington, DC: A. K. Rice Institute, pp. 241-271.

    Miller, E. J. (1989) The Leicester model: experiential study of group and organizational processes. Occasional Paper No 10, London: Tavistock Institute of Human Relations.

    Turquet, P. M. (1975) Threats to identity in the large group. In L. Kreeger (Ed.), The Large Group: Dynamics and Therapy. London: Constable. 

    Varvin, S. & Volkan, V. (2003) Violence or Dialogue: Psychoanalytic Insights on Terrorism. London: The International Psychoanalytical Association.