Arnold Schwarzenegger in Munich 1966-1968
It is not too much to say that Arnold Schwarzenegger has undoubtedly become one of the historical titans of our time. He has changed the “Iron sport”, the movie industry and even the political background in the United States and worldwide once and for all. Although Arnold’s life achievements are generally associated with the United States, he spent twenty-one years of his life in Europe, in Austria and Germany. In 2017 I have visited Tal, Austria and a House-Museum of Arnold Schwarzenegger with incredible personal interest. In August 2018, I visited Germany and the city of Munich, where I found all the key places related to the life of Arnold Schwarzenegger in Munich 1966-1968.
HAUPTBAHNHOF RAILWAY STATION
Arnold Schwarzenegger finally got to see Munich himself back in Autumn 1966. At his nineteen, after nine-month military service, the young bodybuilder finally left his parents’ home in Tal. Looking out the window of the train from Graz, Arnold was fascinated with the scale of a city with a one million population. The very Munich Hauptbahnhof (‘’main station’’ in German) colored Schwarzenegger’s impress. After all, he now had to start a new adult life far from his home, get himself a job, explore his bodybuilding ambitions and all this with a help of Rolf Putziger, his new patron.
As the train came near to the city, I began seeing more and more houses, and then bigger buildings, and then up ahead the city center. I was wondering in a corner of my brain, “How will I find my way around? How will I survive?” But mostly I was selling myself on the mantra “This is going to be my new home.” I was turning my back on Graz, I was out of there, and Munich was going to be my city, no matter what.
Albert Busek, an editor in ‘Sports Review’ magazine and one of the institutors of the 1965 Mister Europe contest, had made his promise to welcome Schwarzenegger at the railway station. A young star, an Austrian Oak, was picked up by Franz Dischinger, another young bodybuilder, who had previously come of second best next to Arnold in Stuttgart (Mister Europe 1965). Franz and his local friend encountered Arnold, made their trio way to a cafe here on the Hauptbahnhof and then took a car ride to get Arnold to Rolf Putziger’s suburban home on the outskirts of Munich. Therefore, Munich Central Station had once become a doorway to Munich for Arnold.
AN APARTMENT AT CHRISTOPHSTRASSE 1
After Arnold’s visit to the suburb mansion of Rolf Putziger, the unpleasant scene and Arnold’s refusal to live here, Schwarzenegger was forced to find a new home for himself. In the early going in Munich, Schwarzenegger had to live right in the Putziger’s gym at Schillerstraße 36. Being constrained by the training manager’s small salary in the Universum Sports studio, Arnold could only afford a small one-room apartment in Munich, and he found one in the house at Christophstrasse 1. Although an apartment was more than modest, it was located near the city center, opposite the cozy Hofgarten park and the State Bavarian Chancellery.
A daily 20-minute walk from here to the work become a morning routine for Arnold. For some time he shared this one-room apartment with Helmut Riedmeier, Mister Germany and Mister Europe champion. Arnold’s next room fellow came from Sardinia and we all know him as Franco Columbu, the future Arnold’s best friend. In 1967 Gustav Schwarzenegger made his way to come to see his son in Munich and stayed at Christophstrasse 1 for a little while. Today Christophstrasse 1 is still a residential house with three-to-five apartments on each floor.
UNIVERSUM GYM AT SCHILLERSTRASSE 36
Back in the 1960s, Rolf Putziger was the owner of the German ‘Sports Review’ printed magazine (Albert Busek, Arnold’s future close friend, occupied a position of an editor). Third age man of unpleasant appearance was one of the most influential personalities in German bodybuilding at that time, owning a print publication, supervising the championships and running his own gym in Munich. The winning of the Mister Europe 1965 contest made Arnold a young star within a narrow circle of the Iron sports fellows and made his way to the magazine covers and the ‘Sports Review’ in particular. Taking into consideration a number of offers, Schwarzenegger finally gave his preference to the UNIVERSUM Sports Studio in Munich in Autumn 1966.
The gym itself had several rooms instead of one big hall; it also had windows and natural light rather than the damp concrete walls I had gotten used to at the stadium in Graz. The equipment was more sophisticated than any I’d ever had access to. Besides weights, there was a full set of machines for shoulders, back, and legs.
Despite the refusal of Arnold to become a young lover, Putziger had a strong business interest in a new star in order to promote his magazine and a gym. UNIVERSUM was one of two gyms in Munich back in the mid-1960s and was located on the second floor of the building at Schillerstrasse 36. Arnold had to make this place the most famous bodybuilding site in the city and to be superior of his main competitor Reinhard Smolana, a former Mister Germany.
Arnold made a mindset to use his impressive appearance and charisma to attract new clients to the gym, such as American soldiers, accommodated at the base near Munich. Being already full of dreams about America, young Arnold now had a chance to communicate directly with the Americans. Here he met a black man for the first time in his life. It is worth to mention, that the editorial staff of the ‘Sports review’ magazine, including Albert Busek, had a small office in this very building at Schillerstrasse 36. Largely due to this, the friendship of Arnold and Albert Busek only grew stronger with time.
When I told him about what had happened, he was disgusted. Since I now had no place to stay, he helped me convert a storeroom in the gym into sleeping quarters. He and I quickly became good friends.
Taking heed to his inner voice and the “Think big” value, a twenty-year-old Arnold Schwarzenegger had come to a determination to win Mister Universe 1966 title, instead of taking Mister Europe. Finding no excuses in his full-time job with clients at the UNIVERSUM gym, Arnold doubled his efforts and devoted himself to the pre-contest preps within the second floor of the building at Schillerstrasse 36. Schwarzenegger challenged other bodybuilders (Franz Dischinger for example) to join him as the workout partner. At this period, Arnold also used to train at the Reinhard Smolana’s gym. By the time, Franco Columbu shared a one-room apartment with Arnold, worked as a taxi driver, a construction worker and become an exceptional training partner for his Austrian friend.
Rolf Putziger’s UNIVERSUM gym at Schillerstraße 36 was located only a brick throw from the Hauptbahnhof main station. Schillerstraße still locates cheap hotels, shops and bars, beer halls and nightclubs just as 50 years ago. It took Arnold an afford to prioritize his future, to concentrate on training rather than spending stormy nights at pubs. Arnold often spent evenings at the beer houses located directly on Schillerstrasse, making noise and often participating in fights. The UNIVERSUM itself once faced the Diplomat hotel where Arnold and Franco Columbu got acquainted with young stewardesses and invited them to train and spend time together.
Even better than the fights were the girls. Right across the Schillerstrasse from the gym was the Hotel Diplomat, where airline stewardesses stayed. Franco and I would lean out the window in our tank tops and flirt with them when they spotted us from the street. “What are you doing up there?” they’d call out. “Well, we have a gym here. Do you want to train? Come on up.”
The front side of the Schillerstrasse 36 has changed a little in the years since Arnold Schwarzenegger worked and trained here. There is a wall carving of Friedrich Schiller above the entrance symbolize a man who gave his name to the street. Hotel Brunnenhof accommodates the building today with a reception and a restaurant on the first floor. A staircase starts its way upon the main entrance and leads to the upper three floors with seven rooms at each one. The modern 120-126 hotel rooms now cover the space of the former UNIVERSUM gym, a training home for Arnold Schwarzenegger in Munich.
ARNOLD IN MUNICH. SEPTEMBER 1967
After the Mr. Universe 1966 contest, with his 2nd place after Chet Norton and despite the strained relations with Putziger, Arnold devoted himself to promoting the gym doing his best. During this period his friendship with Albert Busek rose to a new level of partnership. They went all-out to attract more trainees to the UNIVERSUM and leave Reinhard Smolana far behind. Praising, word-of-mouth techniques, even putting up posters — everything counted. By 1967, in just a year, with these efforts, it was possible to double the number of regular customers of the gym at Schillerstrasse 36 and bring them to three hundred.
In September 1967 Arnold Schwarzenegger did finally reach his goal and won Mister Universe title in London. After taking a breath, a new champion returned to Munich with ambitious to make use of his new status in popularising bodybuilding. 300 trainees for a 1 million Munich was still a bit of low-profile result. but these were the realities of bodybuilding awareness in Germany in the 1960s.
Instead, he had me walk around the city on a freezing day in my posing briefs. Then he called some of his newspaper friends and said, “You remember Schwarzenegger who won the stone-lifting contest? Well, now he’s Mr. Universe, and he’s at Stachus square in his underwear.” A couple of editors thought that was funny enough to send photographers. I led them all over the city: from the market to the Hauptbahnhof, where I made a point of chatting up little old ladies to show I was friendly and nice and not some kind of monster.
Albert Busek succeeded in establishing contacts with two local newspapers and invited a photographer from the »Quick» to perform a photo session. In his “Total recall” autobiography, Arnold stated that it was Busek who initially proposed to arrange a photo session right on the streets of Munich. Rolf Hayo, a photographer later added that the proposal was almost spontaneous. At first, the photographer shot several poses of Schwarzenegger in the studio, and then Albert Busek offered to go outside and meet the eyes of the crown on the streets of Munich. Mr. Universe responded to the offer with a joke, and a group of men went out into the street. The weather was really fresh-autumn and Arnold remembers that he was chilling, walking in the same swimming trunks among people in jackets and raincoats, but it was fun.
ARNOLD AT THE MUNICH HBF.
The initial point of the improvised route was at the Munich Hauptbahnhof railway station. Arnold made a number of his champion poses just in front of the ticket office. People began to gather around the young star, surprised by such an unprecedented spectacle. A young man was posing at the main hall of the station. This spacious lounge has changed a little since 1967. Taking the famous photographs closer, we could see a carving in stone with the MASCHINENBAU. HEZEUBAU. UBAU inscription, which was not preserved till present. Both sides of the hall now face the cashier-machines and an advertising poster, including Macdonald’s.
WALKING ALONG BAYERSTRASSE
Leaving the building of the Munich Central Railway Station, Arnold Schwarzenegger, in his swimming trunks, and the accompanying Busek and the photographers set off towards the Karlsplatz. Their path lay across the Bayerstrasse street with a number of small shops and a small market. A smiling Mr. Universe walked down the street, attracting the attention of intrigued Munich residents. He made his poses from time to time. In one place near the market, an elderly woman tried on the hardness of Arnold’s biceps and the people of Munich appreciated what was happening. Only one woman drew her son off so that he would not imitate “this monster”. If you carefully compare the photographs of 1967 and modern Bayerstrasse, the shops, of course, changed, but the market is no longer there. At the same time, the walkway slab is pretty the same, which Arnold once used to walk back in September 1967.
ARNOLD AT THE KARLSPLATZ
Made their way along the Bayerstrasse, this exceptive delegation finally reached the Karlsplatz square, which was a mean of the true to scale reconstruction. The photographer made a history of the moment when a young Arnold passed by a constructor worker. This memorable photo will make a cover of the Quick newspaper the day after. This puzzled man, wrapped up in layers keeps an eye on a young muscular man in trunks. A little further a young star was encircled with views, smiling on the camera. One man raised his hand imitating the bodybuilding posedown. We can see the KOFFER cafe, which is still here. Any of us who admired with Schwarzenegger can easily stand the same spot from the memorable photos from 1967.
ARNOLD AND ALBERT BUSEK RUN THE MISTER EUROPE 1968
Arnold Schwarzenegger and his close friend Albert Busek was at that time unsatisfied with the organizational level of the sports contest, including bodybuilding and weightlifting. While Mister Germany was annually held within the famous Bürgerbräukeller beer hall, other contest received less attention and were not meant to gain publicity. Two friends managed to buy out an authorization to run the Mister Europe 1968 competition in Munich. Schwarzenegger and Busek decided to run the contest in one of the beer halls and to attract hundreds of visitors. They examined the Schwabinger Bierhalle at Apianstrasse 7 and made an arrangement with its owner. The event turned out to be a triumph with all seats occupied with more than a thousand crowd, passionate in bodybuilding. At present, SCHWABINGER WASSERMANN restaurant with a summer terrace occupies the building.
Albert and I had the idea of bringing bodybuilding competition upscale. We got together a little money and bought the rights to produce Mr. Europe for 1968. Next, we went to the owners of the Schwabinger Bräu, an elegant old beer hall in a classy neighborhood, and asked, “How about having the bodybuilders’ contest here?”