Arnold Schwarzenegger’s Nazi Dad Played a Significant Role in Helping Him Write ‘Be Useful: Seven Tools for Life’

Explore Arnold Schwarzenegger’s views on the impact of his dad in ‘Be Useful: Seven tools for life’ to acquire insightful knowledge!

“I feel guilty because I hear my father’s voice”: Arnold Schwarzenegger’s Nazi Dad Had a Huge Role in Helping Him Write ‘Be Useful: Seven Tools for Life’


After serving as governor of California, Arnold Schwarzenegger went on to pursue careers in bodybuilding, acting, and public service.

‘Be Useful: Seven Tools for Life’, his 2023 book, offers insights into the actor’s journey, values, and beliefs.
His father, a Nazi Party member during World War II, played a significant part in his writing of ‘Be Useful: Seven Tools for Life’.

How did the man who is best known for his portrayal of a cybernetic assassin in The Terminator become the governor of the state of California?

What made him able to go from bodybuilding to acting, and from Hollywood to working in public service? Rewinding even further, what made him decide to leave his birthplace of Austria and relocate to the United States of America?

Well, you can get quick answers to these questions by reading Schwarzenegger’s book, Be Useful: Seven Tools for Life (2023), which is published by Penguin Random House. In the book, the actor discusses how his own values and beliefs were influenced by his father.

Arnold Schwarzenegger
Arnold Schwarzenegger in Terminator 2
He shared how his father’s voice would often nudge him to put in extra effort and aim high. For the uninformed, his father was a member of the Nazi Party during World War II.

How Arnold Schwarzenegger Turned His Father’s Voice into Be Useful: Seven Tools for Life’s Success

Arnold Schwarzenegger is a man of many talents—a bodybuilder, actor, and former Governor of California. However, his capacity to uplift others through his words may be one of his less well-known abilities.

In Be Useful: Seven Tools for Life, the actor, 76, shared personal details about his childhood and the impact his father had on him.

His father, Gustav Schwarzenegger (died on December 13, 1972), was a Nazi Party member during World War II. The True Lies actor talked about how his father inspired him and instilled in him the value of contributing to society during one of his earlier interviews.

Because of his father, his desire to perform continuously blossomed at an early age. The Predator actor revealed that his father’s advice to “be useful” would play over and over in his head whenever he slept in later than usual (via NPR).
A still from Arnold Schwarzenegger’s Netflix documentary, Arnold
A still from Arnold Schwarzenegger’s Netflix documentary, Arnold

The seven-time Mr. Olympia winner told NPR:

“Well, I think that ever since my father stressed when I was a kid to be useful. I think it had an impact on me, and it stayed with me as a method, so much so that I always wanted to perform and do more.

It became such a big part of my life that even when I sleep in – sometimes past 6:00 in the morning – I feel guilty because I hear my father’s voice saying, ‘Arnold, that’s not how this country was built, by sleeping in. Be useful, do something. What are you doing today?’”

The actor made the most of his voice to build a successful life, regardless of whether it stems from his need to stick to a schedule or the habit his strict father inflicted.

The Dubious History of Arnold Schwarzenegger’s Father as a Nazi?

The father of Arnold Schwarzenegger made sure his son knew the value of serving others. The Commando star claimed that his father used to say something like the following to him when he started bodybuilding at the age of 15 (via NPR).

“Why are you lifting these dumbbells and barbells? Don’t you think it would be better to just go out and chop some wood and shovel some coals for some poor people that don’t have anyone?” 

Arnold Schwarzenegger
Arnold Schwarzenegger (via The Late Show with Stephen Colbert)
According to records the Los Angeles Times acquired in 2003 from the Austrian State Archives, Gustav Schwarzenegger submitted an application on March 1, 1939, to become a member of the Sturmabteilung (SA). Austria was annexed on March 12, 1938, and became a part of Nazi Germany.

The actor’s “complicated” relationship with his father was mentioned in an exclusive passage from his book that People published. Per the actor’s book (via People):

“None of us has a choice about where we come from. I grew up in a small village in Austria at the beginning of the Cold War. My mother was very loving. My father was strict, and he could be physically abusive, but I loved him very much. It was complicated.”

Be Useful: Seven Tools for Living by Schwarzenegger is a motivational and insightful read. By opening up about his past and the influence his father had on him, Schwarzenegger shows that even the most difficult of situations can be treated as opportunities for growth and self-improvement.

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