“Arnold Schwarzenegger Opens Up About Abusive Upbringing Under Nazi Father, Suggesting Connection to Brother’s Death”

Arnold Schwarzenegger has opened up about the abuse he suffered as a child at the hands of his “tyrant” Nazi father, which he believes was a driving factor behind his huge success — but also led his brother to an early grave.

Arnold Schwarzenegger in new docuseries "Arnold"; a photo of Gustav Schwarzenegger featured in the docuseries.


Arnold Schwarzenegger in new docuseries “Arnold” and a photo of Gustav Schwarzenegger featured in the docuseries.Netflix

“The Terminator” star is the subject of a new three-part Netflix docuseries titled “Arnold,” which chronicles the Austrian native’s journey from athlete to actor and American politician.

In the first episode, Schwarzenegger recalled the “tough” childhood he and his older sibling 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 that his father Gustav Schwarzenegger — who served as a member of the Nazi Party’s paramilitary wing, the Sturmabteilung (SA), and was involved in the invasion of Leningrad — came home from the war “suffering post-traumatic stress syndrome.”

Speaking to the camera, the former bodybuilding champion said: “He was buried underneath 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 where my father really struggled.”

Arnold Schwarzenegger's father Gustav Schwarzenegger was a member of the SA.
Arnold Schwarzenegger’s father Gustav Schwarzenegger was a member of the SA. Netflix

Describing his father as a “tyrant and a very tough police officer,” Schwarzenegger recalled how he would make him and his brother “earn breakfast” and made them “compete against each other.”

Schwarzenegger recalled how one Mother’s Day, his father even turned picking flowers for their mother, Aurelia Schwarzenegger, into a competition.

The “True Lies” star said his father would also smack and beat them with belts and described how his behavior became worse when he drank.

“There was a kind of schizophrenic behavior that my brother and I witnessed at home,” Schwarzenegger said. “There was the kind father, and other times when my father would come home drunk at three in the morning and he would be screaming.”

“We would wake up and, all of a sudden our hearts were pounding because we knew that meant that he could, at any given time, strike my mother or go crazy. So there was the kind of strange violence.”Arnold Schwarzenegger's older brother, Meinhard.

Arnold Schwarzenegger’s older brother, Meinhard died at the age of 24 after driving drunk. Netflix

However, he said that “everyone was going through the same thing,” as “the kid next door was hit also by his father.”

For Schwarzenegger, the physical and psychological torture from his father only made him more determined to leave Austria for America — something he did at age 21 in 1968.

It was three years later, in 1971, when he was riding high off of his multiple Mr. Universe wins that he learned that his brother had died.

As the actor recounted in the docuseries, Meinhard, who was then 24, had been drunk driving and died instantly after hitting a telephone pole. Schwarzenegger said that he thinks his brother “started drinking because our upbringing was very tough.”

“The brutality that was at home, the beatings that we got from our parents sometimes — all of this I think he could not sustain,” he continued. “He was much more delicate of a person by nature.”

Arnold Schwarzenegger, circled in red, as a young boy.
Arnold Schwarzenegger, circled in red, as a young boy. Netflix

“The kind of upbringing that we had was beneficial for someone like me, who was inside very strong and very determined, but my brother was more fragile,” he said. “Nietzsche was right: that what does not kill you will make you stronger.”

“The very thing that made me who I am today was the very thing that destroyed him.”

Schwarzenegger’s father died of a stroke a year after Meinhard’s death, 1972, while his mother lived until 1998.

“Arnold” begins streaming on Netflix on Wednesday.

Disclosure: Mathias Döpfner, CEO of Business Insider’s parent company, Axel Springer, is a Netflix board member.

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