Arnold Schwarzenegger has opened up about his Nazi-affiliated father in the new ‘Arnold’ documentary series.
He said his father’s abuse caused his brother to turn to alcohol. His brother died in a drunk driving accident.
“The very thing that made me who I am today is the very thing that destroyed it,” he said.
Arnold Schwarzenegger has opened up about the abuse he suffered as a child at the hands of his ‘tyrant’ Nazi father, which he says was a key factor in his huge success – but also led his brother to an early grave .
The ‘Terminator’ star is the subject of a new three-part Netflix docuseries called ‘Arnold,’ which chronicles the Austrian native’s journey from athlete to American actor and politician.
In the first episode, Schwarzenegger recalled the “difficult” childhood he and his older brother Meinhard experienced growing up in the Austrian village of Thal.
The actor was born just two years after the end of World War II and said his father Gustav Schwarzenegger – who served as a member of the Nazi Party’s paramilitary wing, the Sturmabteilung (SA), and been involved in the invasion of Leningrad – came back from the war “suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder”.
Speaking to the camera, the former bodybuilding champion said: “He was buried under buildings, rubble, for three days, and on top of that they lost the war. They went home so depressed. Austria was a country of broken men. I think there were times when my dad really struggled.”
Describing his father as a “bully and a very tough policeman”, Schwarzenegger recalled how he would make him and his brother “win breakfast” and make them “compete against each other”.
Schwarzenegger recalled how on Mother’s Day, her father even turned picking flowers for their mother, Aurelia Schwarzenegger, into a contest.
The ‘True Lies’ star said his father also hit and beat them with belts and described how his behavior worsened when he drank.
“There was a kind of schizophrenic behavior that my brother and I witnessed at home,” Schwarzenegger said. “There was the nice dad, and other times when my dad would come home drunk at three in the morning and he’d scream.”
“We would wake up and all of a sudden our hearts were pounding because we knew that meant he could, at any moment, hit my mum or go crazy. So there was a weird kind of violence going on.”
However, he said “everyone was going through the same thing” because “the kid next door got kicked by his dad as well.”
For Schwarzenegger, his father’s physical and psychological torture only made him more determined to leave Austria for America – which he did at age 21 in 1968.
It was three years later, in 1971, when he was at the peak of his multiple Mr. Universe wins, that he learned that his brother had passed away.
As the actor recounted in the docuseries, Meinhard, who was then 24, had been driving while intoxicated and died instantly after hitting a telephone pole. Schwarzenegger said he thought his brother “started drinking because our upbringing was very difficult.”
“The brutality that was at home, the beatings that we sometimes received from our parents – all of that, I think he couldn’t stand,” he continued. “He was a much trickier person by nature.”
“The kind of upbringing we had was good for someone like me, who was very strong and determined inside, but my brother was more fragile,” he said. “Nietzsche was right: what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.”
“The very thing that made me who I am today is the very thing that destroyed it.”
Schwarzenegger’s father died of a stroke a year after Meinhard’s death, in 1972, while his mother lived until 1998.
“Arnold” begins streaming on Netflix on Wednesday.
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