Arnold Schwarzenegger opens up abusive childhood with Nazi father

‘He could go crazy at any time’: Arnold Schwarzenegger brands his Nazi father ‘a TYRANT’ as he recalls the ‘brutal’ abuse and beatings he suffered at his hands as a child

  • Actor, 75, grew up in Austria, with father, Gustav – a wartime Nazi party official
  • Arnold is set to drop on Netflix on June 7
  • READ MORE: Star says ‘heaven is a fantasy’ and anyone else who tells you otherwise ‘is a f***ing liar’ 

Arnold Schwarzenegger has spoken candidly about the abuse he suffered at the hand of his parents during his upbringing in the upcoming Netflix documentary titled, Arnold.

The Terminator actor, 75, famously grew up in Thal, Austria, with his military father, Gustav – a wartime Nazi party official, and his ‘cleanliness fanatic’ mother, Aurelia.

In the first episode of the project, the Hollywood icon spoke about what it was really like for him and his late brother to grow up as the son of decorated Nazi soldier, who returned to Austria from the war as a broken man and went on to unleash abuse on his family.

‘Our upbringing was very tough. The brutality that would be at home, the beatings that we got from our parents sometimes,’ the True Lies star stated. 

Arnold Schwarzenegger has spoken candidly about his ‘tough’ upbringing in the upcoming Netflix documentary, Arnold

The 75-year-old grew up in Thal, Austria, with his military father, Gustav – a wartime Nazi party official, and his ‘cleanliness fanatic’ mother, Aurelia

The former governor of California explained that children in his town all grew up feeling the after effects of the war because Austria became a country of ‘broken’ men.

Arnold revealed his belief that his ‘tyrant’ father may have suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder and depression, which was revealed in the way he would ‘smack’ his children and hit them with ‘the belt’.

The Predator star also revealed how his father had ‘schizophrenic behavior ‘ which meant his children never knew if they would be getting the ‘kind father’ or the one who would come home ‘drunk’.

‘He would scream at three in the morning and we would wake up and our hearts were pounding because we knew that meant,’ he recalled. ‘He could, at any given time, strike my mother or go crazy. So there was this strange violence.’

He explained that his father became the chief of county police after the war and described him as a ‘tyrant’ who was ‘very tough’ in his role.

Gustav treated his home in the same way and made sure that they were ‘no screwing around’.

‘He thought he should create discipline in the house… you had to “earn” breakfast,’ Arnold recalled.

Meanwhile, his mother would obsessively clean the home, making sure that ‘everything was perfectly placed’ otherwise she would ‘go nuts’.

Arnold – pictured left, with his mother and half brother, Meinhard – explained that his dad returned to Austria from the war as a broken man and went on to unleash abuse on his family

Back in 2004, Arnold first spoke out about his painful childhood as he described the way his father used to beat him in an attempt to make him ‘conform’.

Speaking to Fortune magazine, he stated: ‘My hair was pulled. I was hit with belts. So was the kid next door, and so was the kid next door. It was just the way it was.’ 

Gustav Schwarzenegger (17 August 1907 – 13 December 1972), was a Nazi soldier who fought during World War II

‘Many of the children I’ve seen were broken by their parents, which was the German-Austrian mentality. Break the will. They didn’t want to create an individual. It was all about conforming.’

He continued: ‘I was one who did not conform and whose will could not be broken. Therefore I became a rebel. Every time I got hit, and every time someone said, “you can’t do this,” I said, “this is not going to be for much longer, because I’m going to move out of here. I want to be rich. I want to be somebody.”‘

Despite all he suffered at the hands of his father, Arnold rebelled against the beatings and successfully achieved his dream of escaping his home to become rich and famous. 

He famously made a name for himself as a international body building champion by the time he arrived in America at the age of 21. 

After that, a career in acting followed before he went on to serve as the Governor of California from 2003 until 2011.

As he reflected on his childhood in the documentary, Arnold stated that his experiences gave him the drive he needed for his career. 

‘My dad always said, “Whatever you do Arnold, be useful”, he recounted.

The action star, pictured bottom row, second from left, explained that children in his town all grew up with after effects of the war because Austria became a country of ‘broken’ men

In the documentary, Arnold also speaks on the topic of fathering son Joseph Baena, 25, with his one-time housekeeper Mildred Baena, during a time he was wed to now-ex-wife Maria Shriver. 

During a marriage counseling session in 2011, the counsellor had stated at the time, ‘Today Maria wants to be very specific about something,’ he reveals. ‘She wants to know if you’re the father of Joseph.’

The former governor of California expressed, ‘I thought my heart stopped. And then I told the truth. “Yes, Maria. Joseph is my son.” She was obviously crushed by that.’ 

Arnie explained that at first, both himself and Mildred assumed the child was her husband Rogelio’s, and she continued to work for the Schwarzenegger family. ‘In the beginning I really didn’t know, but the older he got, the more it became clear to me.’ 

The documentary is one of multiple projects Schwarzenegger has been working on the streamer with, as he also stars in the show Fubar. 

Arnold is set to drop on Netflix on Wednesday, June 7. 

Who was Gustav Schwarzenegger? Austrian Nazi military policeman who fought for Hitler across Europe

Gustav Schwarzenegger served in the Austrian Army from 1930 to 1937, achieving the rank of section commander, and in 1937, he became a police officer.

After enlisting in the Wehrmacht in November 1939, Schwarzenegger gained the appointment of Hauptfeldwebel (Company 1st Sergeant) of the Feldgendarmerie, which acted as military police units.

He served in Poland, France, Belgium, Ukraine, Lithuania and Russia.

He was awarded the Iron Cross First and Second Classes for bravery, the Eastern Front Medal, and the Wound Badge.

He was wounded in action in Leningrad, Russia and then suffered recurring bouts of malaria, which led to his discharge in February 1944.

Considered unfit for active duty, he returned to Graz, Austria, where he was assigned to work as a postal inspector.

Schwarzenegger died of a stroke on December 13, 1972, at the age of 65, in Weiz, Steiermark, Austria, where he had been transferred as a policeman.

In a 2021 video, Arnold publicly recalled how his father Gustav was frequently drunk and abusive to his family when he was young.

He attributed this behavior to guilt and shame over what Gustav and other Nazis and collaborators had perpetrated or enabled during the war.

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