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Name / Title

Internationales Begegnungszentrum St. Marienthal (IBZ)
(Foundation of regional Cistercian Abbey)

Case Study Region

Direktionsbezirk Dresden, Germany

Geographical coverage

Location: rural town of Ostritz
Geographical coverage: border triangle Germany, Czech Republic and Poland / EU / worldwide


Business, voluntary group, training scheme


Main activity / focus


– guest house / convention centre (19,000 overnight stays/a)
– work shops / festivals / cultural events
– international encounter activities
– public debates and discussions
– family vacation / vacation programme for school students
– information about regional history
– political education 


Target beneficiaries / market


– young people in Germany, Poland and the Czech Republic, and whole world
– elder people for reconciliation after WWII
– other initiatives in the field of the promotion of moral courage and tolerance
– school teachers and their students from all over Europe

Year established



Current Funding source(s)

– initial capital from Cistercian Abbey in form of foundation
– donations of private persons via the association ‚Wir bauen Brücken-Förderkreis des Internationalen Begegnungszentrums St. Marienthal e.V.’
– Saxon Ministry of the Interior’s programme ‚Weltoffenes Sachsen für Demokratie und Toleranz
– several Federal Ministries
– Bundeszentrale für Politische Bildung
– Diocese Dresden-Meißen


IBZ is legally considered a foundation. However, it works like a company. There is a core group of employed workers for all technical and administrative issues of the facilities and the annual programme. However, a large share of work is done by volunteers when it comes to implementing the annual programme.

Members of the foundation’s advisory board: representatives of the Catholic Church, regional Sparkasse, Deutsche Bundesstiftung Umwelt, Sächsischen Landesstiftung für Natur und Umwelt, Deutscher Bundestag

Members of the foundation’s curatorship: representatives of Landtag des Freistaates Sachsen, Familienbund der Katholiken, Landesrat der polnischen Katholiken (PL), Bildungsagentur Bautzen, Hochschule Zittau/Görlitz, Pfarrei St. Maria Heimsuchung, Phorms Management AG, Bundesagentur für Arbeit, Martinhof Rothenburg, Internationales Hochschulinstitut Zittau, Landkreis Görlitz, Dr. Mohren Treuhand GmbH Wirtschaftsprüfungsgesellschaft, Päpstlichen Fakultät zu Breslau (PL), Institut für ökologische Raumentwicklung, Universität Hannover, Deutscher Familienverband e.V., Gymnasium Augustum-Annenschule, Stadt Görlitz, Zentralstelle des Deutschen Caritasverbandes, Allianz Umweltstiftung, Katholische Erwachsenenbildung im Lande Niedersachsen, Bundesministerium für Familie, Senioren, Frauen und Jugend, Städtischen Museen Görlitz, several private persons, etc.







Why is the IBZ a good practice?

1. IBZ tries to make use of its geographic location within the border triangle (the own property is right at the border river) by organizing and stimulating international encounter within the region.

2. focus on elder persons: the experience of WWII has caused latent prejudices among a large share of elder people in Central Europe. The displacement of Germans from Polish and Czech territories as well as from Eastern Poles to Western Poland has left mental traces. IBZ engages in reconciliation activities to develop a mutual understanding among elder people, so that these elder people could teach tolerance to their descendants.

3. focus on youth’ political education: IBZ understands the European Union not only as an economic or top-down political process but also a social one. It teaches European school students political participation and democracy. Children are also invited to discuss how Europe might become their home. A good example is the Trinational Youth Parliament, in which school classes from GER, CZ, and PL learn European decision taking by playing through political mechanisms. They should develop visions for the cross-border region.

4. focus on religion: Given the religious background of the IBZ, it engages in the mutual understanding and reconciliation of different religions and religious groups. Currently, the relations between Muslims and Christian Europeans are a major issue.

5. focus on language and cultural learning: The IBZ initiated a ‘learning region’ called PONTES within the Euroregion Neisse-Nisa-Nysa in order to stimulate a trinational educational region. This aims at teaching people the languages of each of the neighbours, but also at facilitating the acknowledgement of educational degrees across borders, or the promotion of intercultural competency.

6. focus on ecological matters: in all its activities, IBZ stresses ecological issues. The IBZ has won several awards for being a sustainable institution and providing transferring relevant knowledge during its own activities and events.

Thus, the IBZ follows an integrated approach, in which several development topics of the region are addressed (cross border location, language, culture, history, legal issues). It also tries to combine the European, the national and the regional level, and to teach people to think the different scales all at once. A strong focus always lies on the encounter and development of mutual understanding between different social groups of the EU.


Contact details


Mrs Dr. Beata Bykowska
Internationales Begegnungszentrum St. Marienthal
St. Marienthal 10
02899 Ostritz
Office: +49 (0) 35 823 – 77 233
Fax: +49 (0) 35 823 – 77 250