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A CANDIDATE'S WORDS

by little one Sunday, Oct. 05, 2003 at 7:28 PM

A CANDIDATE'S WORDS Schwarzenegger Admired Hitler, Book Proposal Says By ADAM NAGOURNEY and DAVID D. KIRKPATRICK

October 3, 2003

A film producer who chronicled Arnold Schwarzenegger's rise to fame as a champion bodybuilder in the 1970's circulated a book proposal six years ago that quoted the young Mr. Schwarzenegger expressing admiration for Adolf Hitler.

The book proposal by the producer, George Butler, included what were presented as verbatim excerpts from interviews with Mr. Schwarzenegger in the filming of the documentary "Pumping Iron." In a part of the interview not used in the film, Mr. Schwarzenegger was asked to name his heroes — "who do you admire most."

"It depends for what," Mr. Schwarzenegger said, according to the transcript in the book proposal. "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."

In addition to the transcript, Mr. Butler wrote in his book proposal that in the 1970's, he considered Mr. Schwarzenegger a "flagrant, outspoken admirer of Hitler." In the proposal, Mr. Butler also said he had seen Mr. Schwarzenegger playing "Nazi marching songs from long-playing records in his collection at home" and said that the actor "frequently clicked his heels and pretended to be an S.S. officer."

Mr. Schwarzenegger, in a telephone interview on Thursday, said he did not recall making any of the comments attributed to him or engaging in any of the behavior described by Mr. Butler.

"Let you tell you something: it's one of those things that if you come from that background, you get accused a lot of times of being that, of being a Nazi," said Mr. Schwarzenegger, who grew up in Austria and whose father was a member of the Nazi Party.

"So you know," he continued, "I despise anything that Hitler stands for, anything he has done, hated the Nazism, hated what was done during the Second World War."

Mr. Schwarzenegger said he did consider Hitler to be "a great public speaker" but someone who had used his talent "for something negative."

In his book proposal, Mr. Butler addressed that point, quoting Mr. Schwarzenegger saying, "I admire him for being such a good public speaker and for what he did with it."

But early this morning, Mr. Butler called back, saying he had driven back to his New Hampshire home and found another transcript of the interview, with different wording: "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's very hard to say who I admire, who are my heroes."

Mr. Butler that his transcribers had had difficulty rendering Mr. Schwarzenegger's remarks because of his accent and said the only way to resolve the discrepancy was to listen to the tapes, which are in Mr. Schwarznegger's possession.

In an interview on Wednesday at his home on the Upper East Side of Manhattan, Mr. Butler stood by his recollection of a young Mr. Schwarzenegger playing Nazi marches and mimicking an S.S. officer. But he described it as passing behavior of an immature young man who had quickly grown up, and he said the comments were a product of the body-building culture of the 1970's. "It is the wackiest, zaniest, silliest, strangest world on earth," Mr. Butler said.

The exchange from "Pumping Iron" that was in the book proposal was confirmed on Thursday by Peter Davis, a consultant to the documentary project who conducted the interviews of Mr. Schwarzenegger for the film, which chronicled the body-building culture. But Mr. Davis, who is also a documentary producer, suggested that the excerpt had been taken out of context in Mr. Butler's proposal, and that Mr. Schwarzenegger had gone on to say that he had changed his views on Hitler as he grew up in Austria.

"He went right on to say, basically, as soon as he woke up, his hero became John F. Kennedy and he was shaking his head at himself," Mr. Davis said.

A copy of the proposal for the book, which would have been entitled "The Master Plan," was provided to The New York Times on Tuesday by someone who has no obvious affiliation with any of the California campaigns. The person provided the copy on the condition that his identity be kept secret and would not explain the motivation for releasing it. But the person was aware that the disclosure, coming within days of the California recall election, could damage Mr. Schwarzenegger's campaign.

Mr. Butler, widely viewed as an expert on Mr. Schwarzenegger's career, confirmed the authenticity of the document, which he described as very tightly held, in an hourlong interview at his home on Wednesday.

Mr. Butler sold his proposal to St. Martin's Press for 0,000, but he said he decided not to write it, saying his research did not bear out his initial views of Mr. Schwarzenegger. He said that St. Martin's paid him 0,000 of the advance and that he had returned 0,000.

Mr. Schwarzenegger said on Thursday that he bought the rights to "Pumping Iron" in the early 1990's, a deal that resulted in his taking possession of all the film and outtakes. He also said he was prepared to release outtakes to the public, though he said he was not certain where they were.

"I don't know if I have them now," he said. "If I find them, I would."

In the transcript, according to the Butler book proposal, Mr. Schwarzenegger said he wished he could experience the adulation of being a speaker at a huge political rally.

"The feeling like Kennedy had, you know, to speak to maybe 50,000 people at one time and having them cheer, or like Hitler in the Nuremberg stadium," he said, the transcript shows. "And have all those people scream at you and just being in total agreement with whatever you say."

Mr. Schwarzenegger has gone to great lengths during this political campaign to erase any suggestion that he has had ties to Nazi Germany, an accusation he has repeatedly encountered in his public career. In 1993, in fact, Mr. Schwarzenegger was awarded damages in a libel suit in London against a British journalist who wrote several years earlier that the actor held Nazi views and admired Hitler.

The actor and his wife, Maria Shriver, have since the 90's been very supportive of the Simon Wiesenthal Center in Los Angeles and its Museum of Tolerance, donating more than million to the center.

Mr. Butler said that he distributed the proposal to six New York publishers in 1997 and that all rejected it. He said his agent, Peter Matson, negotiated to sell it to St. Martin's.

In an interview, Mr. Matson confirmed that Mr. Butler, in pitching the proposal, detailed Mr. Schwarzenegger's comments on Hitler.

Two editors who worked on the project in 1975, Geof Bartz and Larry Silk, said in interviews on Thursday that they did not recall the exchange that Mr. Butler included in his book proposal. But later in the day, after being told of Mr. Davis's recollection, Mr. Bartz said he had spoken to Mr. Silk about the remarks, and was no longer certain of his recollection.

A spokesman for St. Martin's said the company canceled plans for the book because Mr. Butler failed to complete it. Mr. Butler said he backed out on his own.

"I just found that there was a lot of loose ends, and eventually — I'm a serious filmmaker, I care about my reputation," he said. "I want to always have it straight. I just felt uncomfortable writing this book and that's why I didn't do it."

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