Former California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger released a moving video on Sunday recounting his childhood in Austria while denouncing the riot last week in Washington that left five people dead.
In the nearly eight-minute clip, the actor turned politician directly invoked Kristallnacht, the 1938 Nazi attack against Jewish homes, businesses and synagogues that was a prelude to the Holocaust — and addressed his own father’s Nazi past.
My message to my fellow Americans and friends around the world following this week's attack on the Capitol. pic.twitter.com/blOy35LWJ5
— Arnold (@Schwarzenegger) January 10, 2021
President Trump “sought a coup by misleading people with lies. My father and our neighbors were misled also with lies,” the Austrian-born Schwarzenegger said, adding that Kristallnacht was conducted “by the Nazi equivalent of the Proud Boys,” one of the right-wing groups that assembled in support of Trump's false claims about the election. Egged on by Trump, the rioters stormed the Capitol Building and temporarily halted Congress’s certification of President-elect Joe Biden’s Electoral College victory. Congress reconvened and certified Biden’s win later that night.
“Wednesday was the Day of Broken Glass right here in the United States; the broken glass was in the windows of the United States Capitol,” Schwarzenegger said in the video. “But the mob did not just shatter the windows of the Capitol; they shattered the ideals we took for granted. They did not just break down the doors of the building that housed the American democracy; they trampled the very principles upon which our country was founded.”
He went on to discuss a “painful memory” from growing up in Austria in the immediate aftermath of World War II.
“I was surrounded by broken men drinking away the guilt over their participation in the most evil regime in history,” he said.
“My father would come home drunk once or twice a week, and he would scream and hit us,” he continued. “I did not hold him totally responsible because our neighbor was doing the same thing to his family, and so was the next neighbor over.”
Schwarzenegger, California’s last Republican governor and a frequent critic of Trump, did not hold back in his latest attacks against the outgoing president.
“President Trump sought to overturn the results of an election ... by misleading people with lies. ... And I know where such lies lead. President Trump is a failed leader. He will go down in history as the worst president ever. The good thing is he will soon be as irrelevant as an old tweet,” he said.
The former bodybuilder and “Terminator” star went on to dramatically end the video by holding up a sword and comparing it to the strength of American democracy.
“This is Conan’s sword,” said Schwarzenegger, who also starred in “Conan the Barbarian.”
“Our democracy is like the steel of this sword. The more it is tempered, the stronger it becomes.”
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