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Schwarzenegger visits Auschwitz in anti-hate message

OSWIECIM, Poland (AP) — Movie icon Arnold Schwarzenegger visited the site of the Nazi death camp Auschwitz on Wednesday, meeting a Holocaust survivor and the son of Holocaust survivors and saying he was time to “end” the hate.

The ‘Terminator’ actor and former governor of California viewed the surviving barracks, watchtowers and gas chamber remains as evidence of the German extermination of Jews and others during World War II.

He also met a woman who, at the age of 3, was subjected to experiments by the famous Nazi doctor Josef Mengele.

‘It’s a story that needs to be kept alive, it’s a story that we need to tell over and over again,’ he said after his visit to the death camp site, speaking in a former synagogue which now houses the Auschwitz Jewish Center Foundation.

He stood alongside Simon Bergson, the foundation’s president, 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 Schwarzenegger, 75, in Oswiecim, the town where the Auschwitz site is located.

He said he and Bergson, who are close in age, were united in their work.

“Let’s fight prejudice together and end it once and for all,” Schwarzenegger said.

Bergson added: “Arnold and I are living proof that in one generation, hatred can be entirely misplaced. Governor, thank you for joining us today.

His visit to the site in southern Poland, which was under German occupation during World War II, was his first and was part of his work with the Auschwitz Jewish Center Foundation, whose mission is to fight hate through education.

He received the foundation’s first “Fighting Hatred” award in June for his anti-hate stance 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.”

He swore that Wednesday’s visit would not be the last.

“I’ll be back,” he said, using a famous phrase from “The Terminator.”

Schwarzenegger, who is originally from Austria, has spoken openly in the past of his father, Gustav Schwarzenegger, being a Nazi soldier during the war.

He told Russians in a video posted on social media in March that they were being lied to about the war in Ukraine and accused President Vladimir Putin of sacrificing Russian soldiers to his own ambitions.

In this video, he evoked painful memories of how his own father was lied to while he was fighting, and how he returned to Austria a broken man, physically and emotionally, after being injured in Leningrad.

Historians estimate that around 1.1 million people were killed at Auschwitz during the war. About 1 million of them were Jews. Some 75,000 Poles were killed there, along with Roma, Russian prisoners of war and others.

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Gera reported from Warsaw.

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