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Winner of AJCF Award for Fighting Hatred Arnold Schwarzenegger at Auschwitz Memorial


American actor Arnold Schwarzenegger, winner of a special anti-hate award from the Auschwitz Jewish Center Foundation, visited the Auschwitz Memorial and Museum on 28 September.


Photo: Marek Lach
Photo: Marek Lach
Photo: Łukasz...
Photo: Marek Lach
Photo: Marek Lach

During the award ceremony in June, which took place in New York aboard the US aircraft carrier Intrepid, Arnold Schwarzenegger declared the intention to visit the Memorial to further his knowledge and continue work to combat prejudice.

'I am witness to the ruins of a country broken by the Nazis. I saw first-hand how this hatred spun out of control and I share these painful memories with the world in the hopes of preventing future tragedies. I stand with the Auschwitz Jewish Center Foundation and their mission of education to ensure that the Holocaust NEVER AGAIN happens,' Schwarzenegger said at the time.

Arnold Schwarzenegger was accompanied on the visit by AJCF president Simon Bergson.

The guests were welcomed by Museum Director Dr. Piotr M. A. Cywiński. They passed through the historic Arbeit Macht Frei gate. They visited blocks 4 and 5, where they saw a model of the gas chamber and crematorium II, personal items belonging to victims of extermiation, and the Austrian exhibition in Block 17. They lit candles in front of the Death Wall in the courtyard of Block 11, where the Germans executed around 5,500 people, predominantly Poles, prisoners detained in the camp prison, and so-called police prisoners sentenced to death by the Gestapo summary court, thus paying tribute to all the victims of the camp.

At the end of the visit to the former Auschwitz I camp, the guests saw the building of the first gas chamber and crematorium. Arnold Schwarzenegger signed the Museum's Memorial Book.

In the second part of the visit, the guests toured the former Auschwitz II-Birkenau camp, including the railway ramp where the Germans carried out the selection of Jews deported to the camp. At the end of the visit, candles were placed at the memorial next to the ruins of the gas chambers and crematoria II and III.

'While our backgrounds are remarkably different, Arnold and I were both born in Austria right after WWII, he in Graz and I in a US Government Displaced Persons Camp since my parents were both survivors of Auschwitz. Now we are united in the fight against hate. We both use our influence to make a difference in the world, ensuring the horrors of the past are not repeated. Arnold and I are living proof that within one generation hatred can be shifted entirely.,' said Simon Bergson before the visit.

Arnold Schwarzenegger has publicly spoken out against hate on social media for many years, where he regularly posts videos and statements to his fans.

After the tour of the Museum, the former governor of California also visited the only surviving synagogue in Oświęcim and the neighbouring Jewish Museum, where he met with Auschwitz survivor Lidia Maksymowicz.