‘Choose strength. Choose life.’ Arnold Schwarzenegger speaks at Stockton University to combat rise in hate
Actor and former California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger visited Stockton University on Monday to visit the Holocaust Resource Center and meet with Holocaust survivors. He then spoke to hundreds of students as part of his nationwide effort to fight rising hate and antisemitism.
“I saw a lot in my childhood…People getting shot, and you know airplanes were constantly coming over, being shot down,” said Holocaust survivor Maud Dahme.
As a child, Dahme was kept away from the Nazis for three years with her sister and placed with a fake family in the Netherlands. This was until Allied soldiers liberated them in April 1945.
“We had a hunger winter from ’44-’45. There was no food for anyone. People were eating Dutch bulbs, tulip bulbs, everything that we could find. And now they were throwing out their rations, chocolate,” Dahme said. “That was the first taste of freedom I had.”
Dahme and Schwarzenegger had a chance to meet on Monday. Schwarzenegger is the son of a Nazi.
“I’ve seen enough people throw away their futures for hateful beliefs,” he said.
Both are committed to the same message – never again will hate be allowed to consume an entire nation.
“I want to talk to you today about the rising hate and antisemitism we have seen all over the world,” Schwarzenegger said.
Many of the students at Stockton weren’t even born at the time when Schwarzenegger was most popular in the 1980s. But there was an overflow crowd to see the former governor, with some arriving as early as 6:30 a.m.
“Throughout history, hate has always been the easy path, the path of least resistance,” Schwarzenegger said. “Let me be clear - you will not find success on that road. You will not find fulfillment or happiness.”
Schwarzenegger said he was deeply moved during a trip to Auschwitz, a former Nazi death camp in Poland, last year.
“The logbooks with thousands of names crossed out as if a cruel accountant only measured death,” Schwarzenegger said.
Schwarzenegger said that those who are tolerate are strong and those who give in to hate are weak.
“I don’t want you to be a loser. I don’t want you to be weak. I’ve spent most of my life helping people find their strength,” he said. “Choose strength. Choose life. Conquer your mind.”
Dahme is a 2014 inductee to the New Jersey Hall of Fame and the only original member still serving on the state’s Commission on Holocaust Education.