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On Sept. 28, Arnold Schwarzenegger joined the Auschwitz Jewish Center Foundation chairman Simon Bergson and Aviva Miller, U.S. director of the AJCF, for a historic meeting with Holocaust survivors at the Auschwitz/Birkenau Concentration Camps.

Schwarzenegger received the inaugural AJCF award for fighting hatred during the AJCF gala in June of this year for his continued advocacy, speaking against hatred at global summits and on his own social media platform. 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.”  

Established in 2000, the AJCF has used its platform to fight against all forms of prejudice and discrimination through education. The organization teaches thousands of professionals, students, and children the devastating impact that hate creates and a collective responsibility to fight against 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.

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At the onset of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, the AJCF opened its doors to Ukrainians seeking refuge and has provided much-needed aid to thousands.

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“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 said.

“We at AJCF want the world to know that hope exists in the shadow of the worst hate crime in human history,” added Miller.  “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.”

During the visit, Schwarzenegger joined Bergson and Miller at the only remaining synagogue near Auschwitz where he connected with Bergson over a shared background in Austria.

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“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.”


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