Schwarzenegger Releases Data on His Hitler Comments
New York Times
By DAVID D. KIRKPATRICK
Published: October 4, 2003
Campaign aides to Arnold Schwarzenegger distributed an excerpt of a 25-year-old interview in which he speaks admiringly of Hitler, providing some additional context to comments that were in a book proposal written by the producer of Mr. Schwarzenegger's first film, "Pumping Iron."
But Mr. Schwarzenegger deferred releasing the outtakes of the documentary film that included the comments, citing the difficulty of locating the relevant passage in about 100 hours of film.
In an interview yesterday as he campaigned in California, Mr. Schwarzenegger said that he did not know precisely where the relevant outtakes were and that aides were trying to trying to find them.
"I don't know where they are now but I'm sure we have them," Mr. Schwarzenegger said. "I've never held them in my hand."
Mr. Schwarzenegger's admiring comments about Hitler appeared in a 1997 book proposal prepared by George Butler, a documentary filmmaker who produced "Pumping Iron" in the mid-70's, introducing the public to Mr. Schwarzenegger and to the body-building craze he helped popularize. The book proposal was obtained this week by The New York Times and ABC News.
Sean Walsh, a spokesman for Mr. Schwarzenegger, confirmed that Mr. Schwarzenegger's staff was in possession of the 100 hours of footage unused in the film. Mr. Schwarzenegger acquired all the unused footage along with the rights to the film in 1991.
The campaign appeared to refine its position on release of the footage from Mr. Schwarzenegger's initial statements on Thursday, when he said he was prepared to release the film outtakes to the public but was not sure where they were. "I don't know if I have them now," he said in an interview Thursday afternoon. "If I find them, I would."
After early editions of The Times were printed Thursday night, Mr. Butler called a reporter to say that he had driven to his home in New Hampshire to find transcripts of the interviews with Mr. Schwarzenegger that Mr. Butler said corrected certain quotations and provided fuller context. Later editions of The Times included the fuller quotations.
Mr. Butler said yesterday that he had located a relevant transcript of about 20 pages. He read portions over the phone to a reporter, but he declined to provide the transcript in full without the authorization of the campaign. By the time that a spokesman for the campaign authorized the release at the end of the day, Mr. Butler could not be reached.
In the portion of the interview read over the phone and later distributed by the campaign, Mr. Schwarzenegger said: "In many ways I admired people 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 and for his way of getting to the people and so on. But I didn't admire him for what he did with it. It is very hard to say who I admired and who are my heroes. And I admired basically people who are powerful people, like Kennedy. Who people listen to and just wait until he comes out with telling them what to do. People like that I admire a lot."
Mr. Butler said the book proposal had erroneously dropped a few words from a quotation attributed to Mr. Schwarzenegger. According to Mr. Butler's reading of the transcript, Mr. Schwarzenegger followed his comments about Hitler's public speaking by adding, "But I didn't admire him for what he did with it." He did not say, "I admire him for being such a good public speaker and for what he did with it," as he was quoted in the book proposal and in early editions of The Times.
Mr. Butler said he could not explain the inaccuracy. "I am amazed that something like that escaped me."
Mr. Butler also read other sentences of the transcript, spoken in Mr. Schwarzenegger's then-imperfect English, that related to the subject. "Yes, in Germany they used power and authority but it was used in the wrong way," Mr. Schwarzenegger said, according to Mr. Butler. "But it was misused on the power. First, it started having, I mean, getting Germany out of the great recession and having everybody jobs and so on and then it was just misused. And they said, let's take this country, and so on." Mr. Schwarzenegger concluded: "That's bad."
Mr. Butler's book proposal also described Mr. Schwarzenegger clicking his heels and pretending to be an SS officer or playing Nazi marching songs at home. In an interview, Mr. Butler attributed Mr. Schwarzenegger's antics to immaturity and the context of the outrageous bodybuilding culture.
Yesterday, Douglas Kent Hall, a writer and photographer who co-authored Mr. Schwarzenegger's autobiography, "Arnold: The Education of a Body Builder," said that on two occasions around 1980 he, too, had watched Mr. Schwarzenegger imitate Hitler gestures and appearance for laughs. Mr. Hall provided a photograph of Mr. Schwarzenegger clowning around in a barbershop, pulling his hair down over his forehead, employing the end of a comb as a short mustache, and raising his fist.
"To some people that is funny and to some people it is not funny," Mr. Hall said, adding that Mr. Schwarzenegger was entering his acting career at the time.
In 1991, Mr. Butler agreed to sell the rights to "Pumping Iron" and the unused footage to Mr. Schwarzenegger for $1.2 million. The purchase agreement was made public in court papers when partners of Mr. Butler filed suit against him and Mr. Schwarzenegger for agreeing to the sale of the film rights without their consent.
The agreement included a provision entitling Mr. Schwarzenegger to destroy all copies of the footage if he chose. It also entitled him to destroy still photographs belonging to Mr. Butler that Mr. Schwarzenegger deemed embarrassing.
In 1997, Mr. Butler first began circulating his proposal for unflattering book about Mr. Schwarzenegger, including references to his comments about and mimicry of Hitler. In March of that year, Mr. Schwarzenegger resolved the lawsuits against him and Mr. Butler by paying the other partners in "Pumping Iron" for their stake in the rights.
Mr. Butler sold the book proposal to St. Martin's Press for about $500,000 but never completed the book. He said this week that he decided against it on further reflection. But executives at St. Martin's said that in early 2001 he sought unsuccessfully to dissuade them from canceling the project and demanding return of the advance.