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The story of Willem Arondeus

Note: This blog post is a repost from this Hexbear discussion.

Willem Arondeus

Willem Arondeus was an openly gay Dutch artist and anti-fascist who, after destroying a Nazi surveillance office, was executed on this day (01/07/2022) in 1943, stating as his last words “Tell the people that homosexuals can be brave!”

Before the war, Arondeus was a visual artist, illustrating poems and painting murals. He later became an author, publishing two novels with his own illustrations and publishing a biography of the painter Matthijs Maris.

Arondeus was active in the anti-Nazi resistance, helping forge documents to protect persecuted groups. A major obstacle to the success of this forgery was the Municipal Office for Population Registration, an Amsterdam office that contained millions of identifying records for Jews and others wanted by the Gestapo.

Arondeus and other members of the resistance bombed the office on March 27th, 1943, subduing the guards via injection, and succeeding in destroying approximately 800,000 documents. Arondeus was arrested on April 1st.

Although he refused to give up the rest of his team, his notebook was found and a majority of the group were also arrested. On June 18th, Arondeus and fourteen others were tried and sentenced to death. Ardoneus pleaded guilty and took the full blame, which may have contributed to two members receiving clemency.

Before his execution, Arondeus made a point of ensuring the public would be aware that he and two other men in the group were gay, asking an acquaintance to “Tell the people that homosexuals can be brave!” Sometimes, this quote is translated as “The people would know that gays are no cowards!” or “Tell the people that homosexuals are not by definition weak”.

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