Willem Arondeus: The Gay Men That Led The Dutch Resistance

Willem Arondeus: Who Was He?

Arondeus was a Dutch artist and author who is best known for his role in the resistance during World War II.

In 1943, he founded Brandarisbrief, a publication that criticized the Nazi occupation of the Netherlands and advocated for resistance.

He also led a group of resistance fighters in an attack on the identity cards office in Amsterdam, for which he was arrested and executed.

Today, Arondeus is remembered as a hero of the Dutch resistance.

Willem Arondeus: Early Life

Willem Arondeus was born in the Dutch town of Baarn in 1894.

As a teenager, he was kicked out of his parents house after they discovered he was gay.

From a young age, he showed an aptitude for art and went on to study at the Amsterdam Academy of Art.

He studied art at the Rijksakademie Van Beeldende Kunsten, where he developed a love for painting and literature.

One of Willem Arondeus’s most famous art pieces

In the 1920s, he became involved in the Dada movement and was an active member of the Amsterdam Dadaists.

After graduation, he found work as a commercial artist and soon became one of the Netherlands’ most successful illustrators.

In 1935, Arondeus switched to writing, penning two novels which he also illustrated.

Willem Arondeus: Anti-Fasict & Dutch Resistance Fighter

In the early 1930s, Arondeus became involved in the Dutch anti-fascist movement.

He joined the Communist Party of the Netherlands and began using his art to speak out against the rise of Nazism in Europe.

In May 1940, Nazi Germany invaded the Netherlands.

Arondeus was among the first to join the resistance movement.

Arondeus was an outspoken critic of the occupation, and in 1943 he founded Brandarisbrief, a publication that criticized the Nazis and advocated for resistance.

The publication quickly gained popularity, and its distribution was soon banned by the Nazi authorities.

He fought against the forced registration of Jews at a time when his countrymen still considered it harmless.

Arondeus and his fellow resistance fighters soon began working to sabotage the German occupation.

They staged a series of daring raids, painting anti-Nazi slogans on buildings and destroying Nazi propaganda.

Arondeus also used his art skills to fight back against the Nazis, producing anti-Nazi propaganda and helping to forge documents that saved the lives of many Jews.

In 1943, Arondeus led the charge in his greatest act of resistance: bombing the registration office in Amsterdam and destroying those records.

The goal of the attack was to destroy all of the identity cards that had been issued by the Nazis. The attack was successful, and more than 5,000 identity cards were destroyed.

With him on the squad was Frieda Belinfante, a lesbian and Jew, who dressed up like a man during her time in the resistance.

However, Arondeus and his collaborators were caught and arrested by the Gestapo. 

The Nazi Headquarters after it was bombed by Arondeus’s squad

Willem Arondeus: His Capture & Execution

In 1943, Arondeus was captured by the Nazis and sentenced to death.

He was executed by firing squad on July 2, 1944

His final words were, “Let it be known that homosexuals are not cowards”

He was posthumously awarded the Dutch Order of Orange-Nassau and hailed as a hero of the resistance.

He was also awarded the The Righteous Among the Nations Award By Yad Vashem to commerate his efforts that helped save Jews under Nazi occupation of Netherlands.

Willem Arondeus: His Art

Here’s a gallery of some of Willem Arondeus’s art that has survived.

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