OSWIECIM, Poland (AP) – Movie icon Arnold Schwarzenegger visited the grounds of the Nazi death camp at Auschwitz on Wednesday and met a Holocaust survivor and the son of Holocaust survivors to deliver a message against prejudice and hatred.
The ‘Terminator’ actor and former governor of California toured the barracks, watchtowers and remains of gas chambers believed to be evidence of German extermination of Jews and others during World War II.
He also met a woman who, as a 3-year-old child, was subjected to experiments by the notorious Nazi doctor Josef Mengele.
“That’s a story that has to stay alive, that’s a story that we have to tell over and over again,” he said after his visit to the death camp grounds, inside a former synagogue that now houses the foundation Jewish Center Auschwitz.
He stood next to Simon Bergson, who was born after the war to Auschwitz survivors, and mentioned his own family history.
“I was the son of a man who fought in the Nazi war and was a soldier,” said the 75-year-old Schwarzenegger.
He said he and Bergson, who are the same age, are united in their work.
“Let’s fight prejudice together and just end it once and for all,” Schwarzenegger said.
His visit to southern Poland, which was under German occupation during World War II, was his first and came as part of his work with the Auschwitz Jewish Center Foundation, whose mission is to combat hatred through education.
In June, he received the foundation’s first Fighting Hatred award for his stance against hate on social media. He said he couldn’t attend in person at the time because he was filming a new action series in Canada and was in a “COVID bubble.”
After his visit to Auschwitz, he swore it would not be his last.
“I’ll be back,” he said.
Schwarzenegger, who is originally from Austria, has been open in the past about his father, Gustav Schwarzenegger, being a Nazi soldier during the war.
He invited the Russians in a video posted on social media in March that they were lied to about the war in Ukraine and accused President Vladimir Putin of sacrificing Russian soldiers to his own ambitions.
In this video, he revived painful memories of how his own father was lied to in battle and how he returned to Austria a physically and emotionally broken man after being wounded in Leningrad.
Historians estimate that around 1.1 million people were killed at Auschwitz during the war. About 1 million of them were Jews. About 75,000 Poles were killed there, as well as Roma, Russian prisoners of war and others.
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