Fact-Check: Was Arnold Schwarzenegger's Father a Nazi?

Right-wing political activist Jack Posobiec tweeted the claim after Arnold Schwarzenegger told anti-maskers to "screw your freedom" for ignoring federal COVID-19 guidelines.

Arnold Schwarzenegger recently lashed out at people who refused to follow federal COVID-19 guidelines, including anti-maskers, telling them to "screw your freedom."

Schwarzenegger made the comments in a video interview with CNN journalist Bianna Golodryga and former National Security Council staffer Alexander Vindman, who was promoting his new book.

Shortly after the 74-year-old actor made the remarks, alt-right political activist and senior editor at the conservative publication Human Events Jack Posobiec shared a link on Twitter claiming Schwarzenegger's father was a Nazi.

"Arnold Schwarzenegger's father was a member of Hitler's Brownshirts and served as a 1st Sgt in the Wehrmacht," Posobiec tweeted. The post garnered more than 3,500 retweets and 7,500 likes on the platform.

Journalists Jordan Schachtel and Luke Rudkowski also alluded to Posobiec's claims on Twitter. "People with family ties to actual Nazis should think more before they speak," Schachtel wrote, while Rudkowski tweeted, "Arnold Schwarzenegger the son of a Nazi Sergeant and someone with way too many ties to other literally German WWII Nazi's is telling everyone 'screw your freedom.'"

Who was Gustav Schwarzenegger?

We can confirm that Posobiec's claim is true. Arnold's father Gustav Schwarzenegger, was in fact, a Nazi. He voluntarily joined the Austrian Nazi Party in 1938 and went on to fight in World War II.

Gustav is believed to have served in Poland, France, Belgium, Ukraine, Lithuania, and Russia, where he was wounded and was even awarded the Iron Cross. He left the Wehrmacht in 1944, and was appointed as a postal inspector in Graz, Austria before resuming his police career three years later. Gustav married Aurelia 'Reli' Jadrny, who was a war widow and the couple shared two children together - Meinhard and Arnold.

Arnold Schwarzenegger and Gustav Schwarzenegger
Arnold Schwarzenegger and Gustav Schwarzenegger Twitter

Gustav passed away in 1972 at the age of 65 due to a stroke. However, his Nazi links first surfaced in 1990, when Arnold asked the Simon Wiesenthal Center, a Jewish civil rights organization based in Los Angeles, to investigate into his father's role in World War II.

The two-month-long investigation found that Gustav voluntary applied to become a member of the Nazi party in 1938. However, there was no evidence of him being a war criminal or being a part of any of Germany's notorious paramilitary units, such as the Sturmabteilungen (SA) or the Schutzstaffel (SS), which were populated by some of Adolf Hitler's most ardent supporters.

This was until 2003, when the Los Angeles Times conducted an investigation ahead of Arnold's run for governor and found documents in the Austrian State Archives in Vienna showing Gustav was more heavily involved in Hitler's regime than previously thought.

The documents showed that Gustav had been a member of the SA, otherwise known as the storm troopers or brownshirts, having joined on May 1, 1939, six months prior to "Kristallnacht", or the "Night of the Broken Glass", when Jewish homes, businesses and places of worship were attacked across Germany and Austria.

The documents also revealed that Gustav fought in some of the most brutal events in history including the invasions of Poland and France as well as the siege of Leningrad. He later rose to the rank of master sergeant with the Feldgendarmerie, the military police, who often served as combat troops deployed on the frontline to suppress civilians from marching on the advancing German forces.

The Simon Wiesenthal Center later explained that it had failed to uncover much of the new evidence because the records accessed by the LA Times remained sealed until 2002.