Arnold Schwarzenegger shared a video on Sunday in which he compared the riot at the national Capitol to the “Night of Broken Glass” in Nazi Germany. He also talked about his experience growing up in post-WWII Austria and warned against allowing the same thing to happen in the United States.
“As an immigrant to this country, I would like to say a few words to my fellow Americans, and to our friends around the world about the events of the recent days,” Schwarzenegger said. “I grew up in Austria. I’m very aware of Kristallnacht, or the ‘night of broken glass.’ It was a night of rampage against the Jews carried out in 1938 by the Nazi equivalent of the Proud Boys. Wednesday was the Day of Broken Glass right here in the United States.”
“The night of broken glass” refers to a night of terror and violence against German Jews that served as an early test-run for the horrors of the holocaust that followed. The violence was ostensibly a spontaneous reaction to the killing of a German diplomat by a Jewish teenager in Paris. Angry mobs took to the streets to terrorize Jews after a speech by Propaganda Minister Joseph Goebbels, who suggested that the murder was part of a wider conspiracy and that the government would not do anything to punish those who sought reprisal against the Jewish community. Many of the attacks were actually pre-planned and carried out by Nazi party members. Hundreds of Jewish places of worship were burned, thousands of Jewish-owned homes and businesses were looted and destroyed, nearly 100 people were killed, many more were beaten, and tens of thousands of Jews were rounded up and sent to concentration camps.
“I grew up in the ruins of a country that suffered the loss of its Democracy,” said Schwarzenegger, who was born in Austria in 1947, about two years following the end of WWII. “Growing up, I was surrounded by broken men drinking away their guilt over their participation in the most evil regime in history. Not all of them were rabid anti-Semites or Nazis. Many just went along, step by step, down the road. They were the people next door.”
The actor and former Republican governor of California then went on to share something from his youth that he said he has never talked about so publicly before, because the memories are painful. Schwarzenegger said that his father would come home drunk once or twice a week and scream and hit them and scare his mother. Schwarzenegger said he witnessed his neighbors do the same things to their families.
Schwarzenegger said the men got drunk because, “they were in physical pain because of the shrapnel in their bodies and in emotional pain from what they saw or did. It all started with lies, and lies, and lies, and intolerance. So being from Europe I’ve seen first-hand how things can spin out of control.”
Schwarzenegger also said that he does not believe that could happen here in the U.S., but he wants people to “be aware of the dire consequences of selfishness and cynicism.”
“President Trump sought to overturn the results of an election, and of a fair election!” Schwarzenegger said. “He sought a coup by misleading people with lies. My father and our neighbors were misled also with lies, and I know where such lies lead.” Schwarzenegger, who endorsed Biden during the 2020 election, called President Trump “a failed leader” who “will go down in history as the worst president ever.”
Schwarzenegger urged elected leaders to remember that patriotism means to stand by the country, not the president. He also said that some members of his party are spineless for failing to stand up to Trump.
The “Conan the Barbarian” actor then pulled out his sword from the movie and explained that steel is made strong by tempering. “The more you temper a sword, the stronger it becomes,” he said. “Our democracy is like the steel of this sword.”
He closed the seven-minute video by asking everyone to come together to support Joe Biden as president.