Arnold Schwarzenegger links Capitol attack to Nazi Germany in powerful video

In a vid that earned 33 million views in a day and drew a response from Vice President-elect Kamala Harris, the actor and former California governor draws on his own past in post-World War II Austria.

Gael Cooper
CNET editor Gael Fashingbauer Cooper, a journalist and pop-culture junkie, is co-author of "Whatever Happened to Pudding Pops? The Lost Toys, Tastes and Trends of the '70s and '80s," as well as "The Totally Sweet '90s." She's been a journalist since 1989, working at Mpls.St.Paul Magazine, Twin Cities Sidewalk, the Minneapolis Star Tribune, and NBC News Digital. She's Gen X in birthdate, word and deed. If Marathon candy bars ever come back, she'll be first in line.
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Gael Cooper
2 min read

Arnold Schwarzenegger's video about the attack on the US Capitol has been viewed more than 30 million times.

Video screenshot by Gael Fashingbauer Cooper/CNET

Actor and former California governor Arnold Schwarzenegger tweeted an impassioned seven-minute video on Sunday, recalling his post-World War II childhood in Austria, and comparing the Jan. 6 attack on the US Capitol with Kristallnacht. Kristallnacht, or the "Night of Broken Glass," was an attack on Jews and Jewish-owned businesses that occurred in in Nazi Germany in November 1938. 

"Wednesday was the 'day of broken glass' right here in the United States," Schwarzenegger said. As of Monday morning, his video has more than 33 million views and over 1.1 million likes.

Schwarzenegger, a Republican governor of California from 2003 to 2011, has been a vocal critic of President Donald Trump. In the video, he calls him the "worst president ever." 

Schwarzenegger shares memories of his father, Gustav, a member of Austria's military police, getting drunk and then coming home and screaming at and hitting his family. The other fathers in the neighborhood did the same, the actor said, calling them "broken men drinking away their guilt over their participation in the most evil regime in history."

At one point in the video, Schwarzenegger displays the sword he carried in the 1982 movie Conan the Barbarian, using it as an example of how democracy, like a tempered sword, becomes stronger under pressure.

"To those who think they can overturn the United States Constitution, know this," Schwarzenegger said. "You will never win."

Vice President-elect Kamala Harris is among those who have responded to the message, calling it powerful and thanking Schwarzenegger on Twitter for "reminding us what's at stake in this moment."