Former California governor Arnold Schwarzenegger issued a video message that quickly went viral on Sunday, in which he compared last week’s mob assault on the US Capitol to the Nazi-era Kristallnacht pogrom against German Jews.
Kristallnacht, in which Jewish people, homes, businesses, and synagogues were attacked by organized Nazi gangs on November 9-10, 1938, is viewed by many historians as a turning point toward what became the Holocaust.
Schwarzenegger, whose own father Gustav was a member of the Nazi party and served in the German army during World War II, 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” — referring to a prominent far-right group involved in the demonstration that turned into the Capitol riot.
“Wednesday was the Day of Broken Glass right here in the United States,” he said. “The broken glass was in the windows of the United States Capitol.”
Speaking of his own experience, Schwarzenegger said, “I grew up in the ruins of a country that suffered the loss of its democracy. … Growing up, I was surrounded by broken men drinking away the guilt over their participation in the most evil regime in history.”
“Not all of them were rabid antisemites or Nazis,” he said. “Many just went along, step-by-step, down the road … It all started with lies and lies and lies and intolerance.”
“So being from Europe, I’ve seen firsthand how things can spin out of control,” said Schwarzenegger, who immigrated to the United States in 1968. “My father and our neighbors were misled with lies, and I know where such lies lead.”
Schwarzenegger said that he did not agree with those who feared the US would go the way of Europe after 1938, but that “we must be aware of the dire consequences of selfishness and cynicism.”
The former Republican governor and movie star added that the current political atmosphere, fostered by President Donald Trump and those who have backed his claims of election fraud, threatened American democracy as it did in Europe, but “our democracy held firm.”
“To those who think they can overturn the United States Constitution, know this: You will never win,” he said.
Watch the complete video message
1st published on Algemeiner.