Former California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger speaks as he accepts the inaugural "Award of Courage" during Holocaust Museum LA's 15th Annual Gala at the Beverly Hills Hotel in Los Angeles on Nov. 6, 2023. (David Swanson/AFP via Getty Images)
BEVERLY HILLS, Calif.—Actor and former Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger received the inaugural Award of Courage from Holocaust Museum LA Nov. 6 evening in honor of his longtime advocacy against antisemitism and bigotry.
Mr. Schwarzenegger was joined at the museum’s 15th annual gala at the Beverly Hills Hotel by a dozen Holocaust survivors, including Joseph Alexander, who turned 101 on Nov. 6.
Mr. Schwarzenegger received the award from producer Mike Medavoy. It is cut from specially cured oak wood in honor of Mr. Schwarzenegger’s bodybuilding nickname, “The Austrian Oak,” according to museum CEO Beth Kean.
Mr. Schwarzenegger, the son of a Nazi, “has publicly spoken out against hate on social media for many years, regularly posting videos and statements to his fans,” Ms. Kean said.
“I’ve received many awards involving muscles, but tonight was about recognizing heart. Education to fight antisemitism has been something I’ve cared about since I was a young man. Love must always prevail over hatred,” Mr. Schwarzenegger said at the gala.
(L-R) LAPD's Gabe Cohen, 101-year-old Holocaust survivor Joe Alexander, Arnold Schwarzenegger, and Holocaust Museum LA CEO Beth Kean onstage during the Holocaust Museum LA gala honoring Arnold Schwarzenegger with first Award of Courage at The Beverly Hills Hotel in Beverly Hills, Calif., on Nov. 06, 2023. (Phillip Faraone/Getty Images for Holocaust Museum LA)
“I felt it was very important, especially since I come from a country that is known to be a big part of the second World War and had the most vicious Nazis during the second World War and beforehand,” he added. “I thought it is important to go out and to let people know that the next generation doesn’t have to be the same, that the next generation can change.”
Through the USC Schwarzenegger Institute, the action star recently hosted an on-campus discussion titled “Terminating Hate: Breaking the Cycle of Extremism.”
“The first ‘Award of Courage’ embodies all the lessons of the Holocaust—the spirit of educating and elevating humanity to fight hate in all forms,” Ms. Kean said in a statement.
“Arnold, by speaking out publicly, embodies our museum’s essence of inspiring humanity through truth.”
(L-R) Holocaust Museum LA CEO Beth Kean, 101-year-old Holocaust survivor Joe Alexander, and Arnold Schwarzenegger attend the Holocaust Museum LA gala at The Beverly Hills Hotel in Beverly Hills, Calif., on Nov. 06, 2023. (Phillip Faraone/Getty Images for Holocaust Museum LA)
Also scheduled to be honored during the gala was Gregory Annenberg Weingarten, vice president of the Annenberg Foundation and founder of GRoW@Annenberg, which financially supports projects and groups “that address social and cultural issues, meets urgent community needs and offers inspiration and collaboration—all with the goal of improving the quality of life in communities around the world,” Ms. Kean said.
Mr. Weingarten directed a $1 million gift to the museum’s “Building Truth” campus expansion project, according to Ms. Kean.
Also honored was Sandra Gerson Kanengiser, board chair and president of the Jack and Goldie Nomberg Foundation, which was endowed by her uncle, Holocaust survivor Jack Nomberg. Mr. Kanengiser also directed a $1 million grant from the foundation to the museum to provide free tours for students, Ms. Kean said.