Former Republican California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger released a video on Sunday condemning President Donald Trump, those in his party who “enabled his lies,” and compared last week’s riot at the U.S. Capitol to an incident that took place in Nazi Germany more than 80 years ago that is often considered the beginning of the Holocaust.
Seated in front of American and California flags, Schwarzenegger starts the video by reminding viewers that he is an immigrant and then recounts his childhood in post-World War II Austria, where he was born in 1947, two years after the conflict had ended. He described the atmosphere as “the ruins of a country that suffered the loss of its democracy.”
“I’m very aware of Kristallnacht, or the Night of Broken Glass,” Schwarzenegger says to the camera as orchestral music plays on. “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.”
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
During Kristallnacht, organized Nazi forces attacked Jewish neighborhoods looting homes, destroying businesses, torching synagogues, and arrested more than 30,000 Jewish men who were sent to concentration camps.
Schwarzenegger reflected on growing up “surrounded by broken men drinking away the guilt over their participation in the most evil regime in history,” which included his father, who is believed to have been a member of the Nazi party.
He blamed “lies” and “intolerance” for allowing Nazi Germany to “spin out of control,” adding, “there is a fear in this country and all over the world” that something similar could happen in the United States. “Now, I do not believe it is, but I do believe that we must be aware of the dire consequences of selfishness and cynicism.”
The unruly mob that stormed the Capitol as Members of Congress met to certify the presidential election “shattered the ideas we took for granted,” Schwarzenegger said.
“They did not just break down the doors of the building that housed American democracy,” he continued. “They trampled the very principles on which our country was founded.”
Schwarzenegger went on to lash out at President Trump, accusing him of seeking “a coup by misleading people with lies” to overturn a “fair election.”
“My father and our neighbors were misled also with lies, and I know where such lies lead,” he said.
Calling Trump “a failed leader,” Schwarzenegger predicted he “will go down in history as the worst president ever,” adding, “The good thing is he will soon be as irrelevant as an old tweet.”
Schwarzenegger also criticized unspecified Republicans, claiming “spinelessness” on their part, and alleging they “enabled [the president’s] lies and treachery.”
“They’re complicit with those who carried the flag of self-righteous insurrection into the Capitol,” he said.
Toward the end of the video, Schwarzenegger wielded what he called “the Conan sword,” presumably the prop the actor used in the 1982 blockbuster hit, “Conan the Barbarian.”
“Here’s the thing about swords,” he said. “The more you temper a sword, the stronger it becomes,” referring to a heat treatment process to harden a blade.
“Our democracy is like the steel of this sword,” he added. “The more it is tempered, the stronger it becomes.”
“I believe, as shaken as we are by the events of recent days, we will come out stronger because we now understand what can be lost.”
Schwarzenegger ended the message urging viewers to support President-elect Joe Biden, claiming the president-elect will strive to bring Americans across the political spectrum together.