Arnold Schwarzenegger visited the Auschwitz concentration camp in Poland at the invitation of the Auschwitz Jewish Center Foundation in September. The 75-year-old actor met survivors of the Holocaust including a woman who was subjected to gruesome experiments by notorious Nazi doctor Josef Mengele. Schwarzenegger also met Simon Bergson, whose parents were Auschwitz survivors.
Schwarzenegger has often spoken about his father’s dark past in speeches against war and bigotry. The Hollywood superstar’s father Gustav Schwarzenegger was a soldier in Sturmabteilung, the paramilitary wing of Hitler’s Nazi party.
After his solemn visit to the concentration camp, Schwarzenegger stood alongside Bergson and said in a speech, “He (Bergson) was born in Austria, in a refugee camp after his parents were relocated from Auschwitz. He was born after the second world war to this wonderful Jewish family. I was the son of a man that fought in the Nazi war and was a soldier. One generation later, here we are. We have one thing in common, we both fight prejudice, hatred, and discrimination.”
The clips from Schwarzenegger’s Auschwitz visit and his speech are being widely circulated online. A Twitter user commented on the speech, “Was never of the same political beliefs as Arnold, and he has his faults as a person, but I could always tell that deep down he cared about people and was a good person.” Another tweeter wrote, “He was pretty vocal about it when he was telling people not to vote for trump in 2020. His message was basically ‘I’ve seen where this goes, and you don’t want that’”.