Gustav Schwarzenegger, father of actor-politician Arnold Schwarzenegger, was an Austrian born police commandant who was also a postal inspector. He served in the military and was part of the German Army during the World War II. Although there is still much speculation surrounding his exact role in the Nazi regime, research has shown that Gustav was a Nazi storm trooper, being a voluntary member of the SA or the German assault division, which had a major contribution in Hitler’s rise to power. His life and work have been a constant talking point in the media especially in 2003, when Arnold was running for the post of Governor of California. As a parent, he was known to be authoritarian and tough. According to friends of Arnold, Gustav was a dominating father who valued discipline above everything and was not very supportive of Arnold’s pursuit of bodybuilding and weightlifting. He wished for his sons to be strong and took great pride in teaching them how to fight and compete in athletic matches against one another.
Gustav Schwarzenegger was a part of the Austrian Armed Forces from the year 1930 to 1937, when he was made section commander. Following this, he became the Master Sergeant in the Wehrmacht, which was the Nazi German armed forces in 1939, after Austria was annexed. In the army he belonged to the military police Feldgendarmerie-Abteilung 521 unit that was part of the 4th Panzer Group, and served in Russia, Ukraine, Belgium, France, Lithuania and Poland. Most of the members of this unit worked as combat troops who were responsible to clear the civilian population for the progress of the German army.
According to Michael Berenbaum, a scholar who has penned 14 books on the Holocaust, Gustav was part of ‘the battle during the most difficult times’ that saw a phase of horrible killings by the military and of civilians. Records show that he had joined the Sturmabteilung, which was the paramilitary wing of NSDAP (National Socialist German Workers’ Party) on the 1st of May 1939.
He was injured on duty in Russia on the 22nd of August 1942, due to which he was awarded the Wound Badge and the bravery Iron Cross, 1st and 2nd class. Initially, he was treated in Łódź army hospital, however, his health condition deteriorated due to a recurring case of malaria and he had to be discharged from active duty in February 1944.
After this, he returned to Austria and started working as a postal officer in Graz. In 1947, he resumed his duties as a police officer, until his death in 1972.
As per recovered documents and historian Ursula Schwarz, Gustav Schwarzenegger was a person of average intellect, whose career path was a common norm for a man of his generation. He was considered to be a reliable and calm individual, and there are no links of him being directly involved in criminal warfare or civilian abuse.
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Gustav Schwarzenegger’s association with the SA has been a controversial topic of discussion in the media. This assault wing of the Nazi army has been infamously known to have the most ardent of followers of Adolf Hitler and for playing a very important role in his journey to power. Although there are no records that prove Gustav’s direct involvement in any of the atrocities, his earnestness to join the storm troopers has raised a lot of questions.
Family & Personal Life
Gustav Schwarzenegger was born on the 17 August 1907 in Austria-Hungary to Karl Schwarzenegger and Cecelia. His brothers were Franz and Alois Schwarzenegger and he also had a sister called Cecilia Cilly Gellner.
He married Aurelia Jadrny, a war widow, on the 5th of October 1945, in Austria. The couple had two sons named Meinhard Schwarzenegger born on 17th July 1946 and Arnold Schwarzenegger born on 30th July 1947. Unfortunately, Meinhard died in a car accident while driving under the influence of alcohol on 20th of May 1971 when he was only 25 years old.
Gustav was working as a policeman in Weiz, Austria when he died at the age of 65 on the 13th of December 1972 due to a stroke. His wife Aurelia died due to a heart-attack when she was 76 years old, in August 1998 while visiting Gustav’s grave. The couple is buried next to each other in the Weiz Cemetery.