Arnold Schwarzenegger on Sunday slammed the Donald Trump supporters who smashed their way into the Capitol last Wednesday, comparing their actions to those of the Nazis in the infamous 1938 pogrom against Jewish property in Germany known as Kristallnacht.
"I grew up in Austria," said the actor and former Republican governor of California in a video posted on Twitter.
"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," he said, referring to an American men-only extremist organization branded a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center.
Dozens of people have been charged following the storming of the Capitol, with the FBI asking the public to help identify participants, given the proliferation of images of the riot on the internet.
Five people died in the riot, including a police officer beaten by the mob with a fire extinguisher.
"Wednesday was the Day of Broken Glass right here in the United States," Schwarzenegger said in his video.
"The broken glass was in the windows of the United States Capitol. But the mob did not just shatter the windows of the Capitol. They shattered the ideas we took for granted. They did not just break down the doors of the building that housed American democracy. They trampled the very principles on which our country was founded."
Schwarzenegger also drew on his own personal history as a child in post-World War II Austria, after the defeat of the Nazis.
"I grew up in the ruins of a country that suffered the loss of its democracy. I was born in 1947, two years after the Second World War," he said.
"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," he said.
"Now I've never shared this so publicly because it is a painful memory. But my father would come home drunk once or twice a week, and he would scream and hit us and scare my mother. I didn't hold him totally responsible because our neighbor was doing the same thing to his family and so was the next neighbor over.
"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," he said.
Schwarzenegger said that while he does not believe that the events of the war could happen again in the U.S., "I do believe we must be aware of the dire consequences of selfishness and cynicism."
He lashed out at Trump, calling him a "failed leader" who "sought to overturn the results of... a fair election."
"He sought a coup by misleading people with lies," he said. "My father and our neighbors were misled also with lies, and I know where such lies lead."
The former governor has long been a vehement critic of Trump, calling him “meshugge” (Yiddish for “crazy”) for abandoning a 2015 climate change agreement as part of his “America First” campaign vow.
This week he told German newspaper Bild am Sonntag that he was saddened by the images emanating from the riot.
“That’s not our America. That’s not my America,” he said.
Last Tuesday, the day before the riot, Schwarzenegger wrote in the Economist that Trump had to put an end to his “stupid, crazy and evil” attempt to overturn the results of the November 2020 elections in which he was soundly beaten by Democratic President-elect Joe Biden.