Arnold Schwarzenegger visited the Auschwitz Nazi death camp on Wednesday to deliver a message against prejudice and hate.
The “Terminator” actor met with a Holocaust survivor, a son of survivors and a woman who was forced into experiments by Nazi doctor Josef Mengele when she was just 3 years old. He also saw the barracks, watchtowers and remnants of gas chambers. Schwarzenegger placed candles in front of the Death Wall, where the Germans shot thousands of people, and at the monument to the victims of Auschwitz.
“This is a story that has to stay alive, this is a story that we have to tell over and over again,” the 75-year-old former governor of California said at the Auschwitz Jewish Center Foundation.
He has been working with the foundation and received its inaugural “Fighting Hatred” award in June for his anti-hatred messages on social media.
“I am witness to the ruins of a country broken by the Nazis,” Schwarzenegger said in a statement after receiving the honor. “I saw firsthand how this hatred spun out of control and I share these painful memories with the world in the hopes of preventing future tragedies and educating soldiers about personal responsibility. I stand with the Auschwitz Jewish Center Foundation and their mission of education to ensure NEVER AGAIN.”
Schwarzenegger has previously opened up about his Austrian father, Gustav Schwarzenegger, being a Nazi soldier during World War II, and is committed to fighting prejudice now.
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“I was the son of a man who fought in the Nazi war and was a soldier,” he shared.
He was accompanied by Simon Bergson, a son of Holocaust survivors, and said the two are both fighting for the same thing.
“Let’s fight prejudice together, and let’s just terminate it once and for all,” Schwarzenegger said.
This was the actor’s first trip to Auschwitz, but he said it wouldn’t be his last.
“I’ll be back,” he said.