Arnold Schwarzenegger has likened the attempt by Donald Trump’s supporters to storm the US Capitol to Kristallnacht when more than 100 Jews were killed as Nazis rampaged through Germany and Austria.
In a seven-minute address on Twitter, the Austrian-born film star and former Republican governor of California gave a withering and emotional condemnation of last week’s rampage by the president’s supporters
"I grew up in Austria. I’m very aware of Kristallnacht, or the Night of Broken Glass,” he said.
"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," he said.
Although Mr Schwarzenegger was born nine years after the anti-semitic pogrom, the legacy was etched into his own family’s life.
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
"I’ve never shared this because it’s a painful memory, but my father would come home drunk … and he would scream and hit us and scare my mother," he added.
Kristallnacht was fuelled by lies, Mr Schwarzenegger continued as he accused Mr Trump of following a similar playbook. "President Trump sought to overturn the results of an election, and of a fair election. He sought a coup by misleading people with lies."
It was these lies – claiming that the election had been “stolen” by Joe Biden which triggered the events of last Wednesday, he added.
"President Trump is a failed leader. he will go down in history as the worst president ever. The good thing is he will soon be as irrelevant as an old tweet," he continued.
"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 of American democracy. They trampled the very principles on which our country was founded."
Emphasising his message, Mr Schwarzenegger wielded “Conan’s sword” – in a nod to his role in the 1982 film Conan the Barbarian. “Our democracy is like the steel of this sword, the more itis tempered, the stronger it becomes,” he said.
In 1990, at the request of Mr Schwarzenegger, the Simon Wiesenthal Centre found that the actor’s father, Gustav, had voluntarily joined the Nazi party in 1938.
Then in 2003 an investigation of documents by the Los Angeles Times ascertained Gustav Schwarzenegger joined the brownshirts – or Sturmabteilung – in 1939, about six months after Kristallnacht. A spokesman for Mr Schwarzenegger reiterated that his views were the complete opposite of those held by his father.
Fears of neo-Nazi involvement in last week’s rampage in Washington DC were heightened by a photograph of one of the rioters wearing a “Camp Auschwitz” sweatshirt.
Fears had been growing of the threat posed to US security by right-wing extremists.
In October a draft assessment from the Department of Homeland Security described white supremacists as “the most persistent and lethal threat” faced by the country.