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2003-10-06

Arnold Denies Allegations That he "Admired" Hitler

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Schwarzenegger was quoted as saying he "admired" Hitler in a 1975 transcript of an interview while filming the documentary "Pumping Iron." We speak with Martin Lee, author of "The Beast Reawakens: Fascism’s Resurgence from Hitler’s Spymasters to Today’s Neo-Nazi Groups and Right-Wing Extremists" [Includes transcript]

Click here to read to full transcript Protests organized by the National Organization of Women and CodePink were held across the state one day after the Los Angeles Times published an article quoting six women who said Schwarzenegger had groped and humiliated them in acts that allegedly took place over three decades. Arnold quickly apologized for his actions.

California Attorney General Bill Lockyer called on Arnold Schwarzenegger to volunteer to be investigated over the accusations yesterday and The Oakland Tribune withdrew its endorsement of Schwarzenegger on Saturday, citing the accusations.

Aides have accused the newspaper of practicing "irresponsible journalism" and denounced the allegations as a last-minute smear campaign to help Gov. Gray Davis. Arnold described the stories as "puke politics." Meanwhile, on the Schwarzenegger campaign, anger at the LA Times has become a rallying cry.

Before a Schwarzenegger rally in Modesto, California on Saturday, one speaker, a radio host, urged the crowd to make the media feel welcome and added, "Except for the guy. ... Who’s the guy with the L.A. Times? Find him and beat him up would you?"

Schwarzenegger was also forced to deny comments he allegedly made 25 years ago that he admired Adolf Hitler. Schwarzenegger was quoted as making the comments in a 1975 transcript of an interview while filming the documentary "Pumping Iron" that made him famous.

According to the transcript in a book proposal circulated six years ago, Schwarzenegger said when asked to name his heroes: "It depends for what. I admired Hitler, for instance, because he came from being a little man with almost no formal education up to power. And I admire him for being such a good public speaker." A consultant to the documentary, Peter Davis, later said the Hitler quote was taken out of context.

In addition to the transcript, film producer George Butler wrote in the book proposal that in the 1970s, he considered Schwarzenegger a "flagrant, outspoken admirer of Hitler." Butler also said he had seen Schwarzenegger playing "Nazi marching songs from long-playing records in his collection at home" and said that the actor "frequently clicked his heels and pretended to be an S.S. officer."

Schwarzenegger told The New York Times that he did not recall making any of the comments or engaging in any of the behavior described by Butler.

  • Martin Lee, author of the "The Beast Reawakens: Fascism’s Resurgence from Hitler’s Spymasters to Today’s Neo-Nazi Groups and Right-Wing Extremists"

TRANSCRIPT

AMY GOODMAN:Well, we’re joined on the telephone right now by Martin Lee, Martin Lee is a long time author who has focused on rising fascism in Europe and chronicled it.

Let’s talk about these Schwarzenegger quotes around Hitler.

MARTIN LEE: This is a long standing pattern with Arnold, as he likes call himself these days on the campaign trail.

He admits that he idolized Hitler; his father, of course, was a member of the Nazi party.

When the film was being made, the documentary, "Pumping Iron", he was interviewed for it, in which he expressed admiration for Hitler for being such a good public speaker and so forth and so on. There are various versions of what he actually said.

What is significant is that later on the producer of this film, George Butler, circulated a book proposal in which he included Schwarzenegger’s comments about Hitler. He withdrew the book proposal around the same time as Schwarzenegger paid him a lot of money to regain the rights… or actually, to gain the rights to that film and footage and out takes which included his comments about Hitler.

It turned out to be an illegal pay off, shown to be in court because Butler had partners, investment partners in this film. This all went on behind their backs. He got a lot of money from Schwarzenegger; he wanted $2 million. They never told their partners.

Court papers indicate that the deal included a provision where by Schwarzenegger was entitled to destroy this material, destroy this footage.

You look at this, the point is not that Schwarzenegger is a Nazi. But certainly seems to have an authoritarian personality. He tries to deny that this interview actually took place. He claimed initially he couldn’t remember what happened in the interview. Yet why would he be so eager to get this footage and control it? Because he had political ambitions and realized this was a skeleton in his closet.

He’s a liar, he’s a phony, he has no business seeking public office, and this is just one example of the Nazi comments, flirtation with the extreme right that you see in Schwarzenegger’s career.

AMY GOODMAN: Can you talk about his relationship with Kurt Valdheim.

MARTIN LEE: When Schwarzenegger was married in 1986 at his wedding he made a very lavish and glowing toast to Kurt, the former Secretary General of the U.N., who, at that time was embroiled in an international scandal because it became public that Valdheim was a member of a Nazi S.S. unit that participated in war crimes in the Balkans.

For Schwarzenegger to have made this toast at that time after these revelations surfaced is really quite shocking. It shows, at the very least, insensitivity to the victims of Nazism and anti-Semitism.

This isn’t the end of the story. A few years later, Schwarzenegger had his photo taken with, Jorg Heider, the head of the extreme Right, Freedom Party in Austria, a catch basin for neo-Nazis, and Holocaust deniers. He, in a sense, is a supporter of Heider, and espouses similar policies with respect to immigration as Heider does in Austria.

Schwarzenegger has association with the Organization of U.S. English, which has a history of ties to white supremacists. Even though others have resigned from the board of advisors, he still lends his good name, so to speak, to this organization. Other people, even right-wingers have resigned because of the controversy. Schwarzenegger has stayed on; he should be called into account for this.

AMY GOODMAN: So, you’ve got Waldheim, you’ve got Jorg Heider, you’ve got Arnold describing Hitler as a charismatic leader, then the controversial quotes out of the Butler transcript where he said in the quote that he admired Hitler for being such a good public speaker, but he didn’t admire him for what did he with it.

MARTIN LEE: There are all the different versions of what he actually said.

Initially when Butler circulated the book proposal, there was no qualifying statement in which Schwarzenegger was critical of Hitler. After Butler got a lot of money from Schwarzenegger, ostensibly to buy back this film, which coincided with his scuttling the book project, then you have a different version.

One way or another the point is not that Schwarzenegger is a Nazi, the point is that it raises character issues that he’s not qualified to be in public office.

AMY GOODMAN: Thank you for being with us, Martin Lee.


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