Arnold Schwarzenegger -- a man who needs no introduction after a lifetime of starring roles in movies and serving two-terms as governor of California -- told students gathered at Stockton University in Galloway, New Jersey, that true success would never be found through hatred.
"Let me be clear, you will not find success on that road. You will not find fulfillment or happiness," Schwarzenegger said during a visit on Monday. "There has never ever been a successful movement based on hate. Never. Look at the history. The Nazis? Losers. The confederacy? Losers. The apartheid movement? Losers. The list goes on and on and on!"
NBC10's Cydney Long was on hand as the movie star addressed the prevalence of hatred and antisemitism in society and the need to stamp it out.
He told students about a visit he made to the Auschwitz concentration camp in Germany, where at least a million Jewish prisoners were killed while Nazism reigned during World War II. His father, Schwarzenegger said, was a soldier in Hitler's army and it made him take a hard look at his own life as he felt the weight of history during his visit to the camp.
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"It’s not easy to look in the mirror and to change your own life. It’s hard as hell," he said. "You have to take responsibility. You have to learn new things. You have to feel uncomfortable. Good."
In fact, Schwarzenegger said visiting Auschwitz was one of the darkest moments of his life, until he met a survivor of that camp who told him the Nazis could take "my family, my food, my clothing, but, they can't take my mind."
Schwarzenegger also said those who have done something hurtful or hateful in the past can still find redemption.
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"There is still hope for you," he said. "There is still time for you. So I say, choose strength. Choose life. Conquer your mind. You can do it!"
Afterwards, the former actor and governor met with survivors of the Holocaust, including Elizabeth Roth who survived with her sister but never saw the rest of her family again.
"It shaped me to be a decent person," Roth said. "Not to have the hate."
The survivors said that Schwarzenegger's visit helped share the important message of not repeating the mistakes of the past.
"It is terribly important and education is the only answer to all of this," Leo Ullman, a survivor of the Holocaust, told NBC10.
Students too noted that Schwarzenegger's words were moving.
"As a Holocaust and genocide student, I think his message was empowering, about hate. About leadership. About communication." Katie Manhardt, a Stockton University student, said.
Nya Cook-Tillet, another Stockton student, credited her parents with steering her in the right direction.
"The way my parents have raised me to be a good person, I have chosen the not so easy path," she said.
Maxwell Abbeyquaye, another Stockton student, spoke about a way to combat hate.
“Collective hate can only be destroyed on an individual level first,” he said.
Before he left the campus, Stockton University's board of trustees presented Schwarzenegger with an honorary doctorate of public service.