“This Is What the Naz*s Did Arnold, They Took My Brother’s Head and They Smashed It In With a Stone”: Arnold Schwarzenegger Recalls a Horrific Story That Stayed With Him for Life

Published 10/09/2023, 7:25 AM EDT

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Arnold Schwarzenegger achieved immense success in three different careers. The bodybuilding icon traveled from Austria to the United States and chased his dreams. Arnie conquered bodybuilding and became a Hollywood icon and Governor of California. Many people who learn about Arnie’s story think he is self-made. However, the 76-year-old denounces that notion.

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Schwarzenegger believes that without the help of his mentors, he wouldn’t have become successful. The legendary bodybuilder has learned many things from many mentors at different stages of his life. However, the teachings of one of Arnie’s first mentors in Austria have stuck with the seven-time Mr. Olympia throughout his life. The 76-year-old recently recalled one horrifying story that profoundly affected him.

Arnold Schwarzenegger understood the significance of the story later in life

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While appearing on the Rich Roll Podcast, Arnold Schwarzenegger spoke about learning from others. The 76-year-old talked about Alfred Gerstl, one of his childhood mentors. Besides Kurt Marnul, Schwarzenegger’s first weightlifting trainer, Freddy Gerstl had the most impact on Arnie as a child. While Gerstl didn’t teach him to lift weights, he taught Arnie about morality and history.

Gerstl’s father was Jewish, and while his mother was a Catholic Christian, he faced the German army’s wrath during World War 2. During the war, Alfred Gerestl joined a resistance movement in Graz. After spotting Schwarzenegger’s talent, Gerstl took him and other talented kids under his wing in the post-war era. He taught the boys about the history of antisemitism and the tyranny of the Nazis.

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“This is what the Naz*s did, Arnold. They took my brother’s head, and they smashed it in with a stone. They stoned him to death, and I was lucky to be able to escape,” Arnie’s mentor told him. While former Mr. Universe didn’t understand the true meaning as a teen, he understood later. “As you grow up, yeah, and as you get older, they mean something to you,” he told Rich Roll. Gerstl’s stories also urged Schwarzenegger to take action.

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The lesson that inspired the icon to spread awareness

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While Arnold Schwarzenegger’s father fell for Nazi propaganda during the war, Schwarzenegger became aware of the horrors committed by the Third Reich. As he grew up to become more influential, the weight of those stories compelled Arnie to spread awareness. Throughout his different careers, Schwarzenegger has utilized his fame to spread awareness.

Last year, the bodybuilding icon went to the Auschwitz Museum. After his visit, the former governor of California posted a video in which he spoke about his experience. Arnie spoke about the traces of horror that still lie within the walls of the former concentration camp. He also advised people getting influenced by hateful thoughts to focus on doing something positive.

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While Arnold Schwarzenegger’s childhood mentor passed away in 2016, his teaching lives on through the 76-year-old icon.

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Written by:

Sagnik Bagchi

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Sagnik Bagchi is a sports writer at EssentiallySports who specializes in Bodybuilding. He has a deep understanding of combat sports, gymnastics, and weightlifting. He holds a Master's Degree in English Literature from a top university.
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Edited by:

Simar Singh Wadhwa

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