Arnold Schwarzenegger has compared the Donald Trump-supporting Capitol rioters to Nazis in a heartfelt video recalling his experience of growing up in the aftermath of the Second World War.
The movie star-turned-politician used his Twitter account to release an emotional piece to camera condemning the mob that stormed the building in Washington DC earlier this week.
In it, Schwarzenegger said the rampage was America’s “Night of Broken Glass”, referring to the Kristallnacht of 1938 when shards of broken glass littered the streets of Nazi Germany after the windows of Jewish-owned stores, buildings and synagogues were smashed by paramilitary troops and civilians alike.
And he went further, describing the people who committed those acts as the “Nazi equivalent of the Proud Boys” – the far-right, neo-fascist, male-only American group of today, which Mr Trump has publicly failed to condemn and even mentioned during a presidential debate back in September.
Seated in front of the US flag and the California flag; the state of which he was governor from 2003 until 2011 and speaking over rousing music, he said: “Wednesday was the day of broken glass, right here in the United States.
“The broken glass was in the windows of the United States Capitol – but the mob did not just shatter glass, they shattered the ideas we took for granted.
“They did not just break down the doors of the building that houses American democracy, they trampled the very principles on which our country was founded.”
Schwarzenegger was born in Austria in 1947, two years after the end of the war, and spoke of how “broken men” struggled to deal with the “guilt of their participation in the most evil regime in history”.
He said the Nazi regime in Germany “all started with lies, and lies, and lies and intolerance” – adding that he had seen first-hand how “things can spiral out of control”.
The video had been viewed almost seven million times within hours of it being uploaded.
At one point, Schwarzenegger even holds aloft the sword from his famous action film Conan The Barbarian and says: “This is Conan’s sword!
“And here is the thing about swords; the more you temper it, the stronger it becomes.
“Our democracy is like the steel of a sword. It has been tempered by wars, injustices and insurrections. I believe as shaken as we are by events in recent days, we will come out stronger because we now understand what can be lost.”
Five people died as a result of the riot on Wednesday, including a Capitol Hill police officer.
Schwarzenegger, who condemned Mr Trump as a “failed leader”, said: “We need to hold account the people that brought us to this unforgivable point.”
He then appealed for unity, saying: “We need to look past our parties and disagreements – and put democracy first.
“We need to heal – together – from the drama of what has just happened.
“We need to heal, not as Republicans or Democrats – but as Americans.”
And, although a Republican, he also called on Americans to support Democrat Joe Biden as he heads towards inauguration as the 46th US president.
“Joe Biden – we stand with you. We wish you great success as president,” he said.
“We stand with you today, tomorrow and forever in the defence of our democracy and those who threaten it.”
Mr Trump has said that he will not be attending the president-elect’s inauguration on January 20, breaking with a long-standing tradition, but Vice President Mike Pence will.