Arnold Schwarzenegger was joined by Simon Bergson, chairman of Auschwitz Jewish Center Foundation, and Aviva Miller (director of the AJCF in the United States), for a historic meeting at the Auschwitz/Birkenau Concentration Camps with Holocaust survivors.
Schwarzenegger was awarded the inaugural AJCF Award for Fighting Hate at the AJCF gala in June for his advocacy and his continued support of hatred. It was at the gala that Schwarzenegger promised to make a trip with the AJCF to participate in the amplification of the organization’s mission to fight hate.
“I am witness to the ruins of a country broken by the Nazis,” Schwarzenegger said. “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. I stand with the Auschwitz Jewish Center Foundation and their mission of education to ensure that the Holocaust never again happens.”
The AJCF was established in 2000 and has used its platform to combat prejudice and discrimination through education. The organization teaches thousands, both students and professionals, about the devastating effects of hate and how to combat it. Annually, the AJCF also selects a cohort of cadets and midshipmen from the U.S. Army, Naval, Coast Guard, Air/Space Force Academies to visit AJCF’s center in Poland to learn ethical responsibility in the military.
Arnold Schwarzenegger embraces Auschwitz survivor Lidia Maksymowicz at AJCF’s synagogue in Oświęcim, the town next to Auschwitz.
The AJCF was open to Ukrainians looking for refuge in the wake of the Russian invasion of Ukraine and has provided much-needed assistance to thousands.
“I support AJCF in memory of my parents, who both survived Auschwitz. We are deeply grateful that Arnold Schwarzenegger joined us here today to witness for himself the destruction that hate can cause and how we at AJCF impact the future by using the lessons of the past,”Bergson stated.
“We at AJCF want the world to know that hope exists in the shadow of the worst hate crime in human history,”Miller was also mentioned. “I extend a heartfelt thank you to the former governor [of California] for working together with us in our aligned missions to end hatred globally.”
Schwarzenegger met Miller and Bergson at the last synagogue close to Auschwitz, where he reconnected with Bergson over their shared Austrian heritage.
“Simon and I were both born in Austria, he in a refugee camp after his parents survived Auschwitz, and I as the son of a man who fought in the Nazi war as a soldier,” Schwarzenegger said. “We now show the difference one generation can make. We are almost the same age, and we have something in common — we are both fighting prejudice, hatred and discrimination. This is what unites us. This is a story that has to stay alive. This is a story that we have to tell over and over again.”