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Willem Arondeus (August 22, 1894 - July 1, 1943)

Willem Arondeus (Naarden, 22 August 1894 – Haarlem, 1 July 1943) was a homosexual Dutch artist and author, who joined the anti-Nazi resistance movement during World War II. In his last message before his execution, Arondeus, who had lived openly as a gay man before the war, asked,
"Let it be known that homosexuals are not cowards."
Willem Arondeus was born in Naarden, as the youngest son of an Amsterdam tradesman in fuels. His parents were Hendrik Cornelis Arondeus and Catharina Wilhelmina de Vries. He started working as an illustrator, designer of posters and tapestries and a painter, for instance a large wall painting in the Rotterdam town hall. He admired the older Dutch designer Richard Roland Holst, as can be seen in his work. He didn't attain much glory and lived in straitened circumstances.

About 1935, he gave up visual arts and became an author. The poems and stories he had written in the 1920s went unpublished, but in the year 1938 he published two novels, Het Uilenhuis ('The Owls House') and In de bloeiende Ramenas ('In the Blossoming Winter Radish'), both illustrated with designs by Arondeus himself. 1939 saw the publication of his best work, Matthijs Maris: de tragiek van den droom ('The Tragedy of the Dream'), a biography of the painter Matthijs Maris, who was a brother of the Dutch artists Jacob and Willem Maris. And two years later, Figuren en problemen der monumentale schilderkunst in Nederland ('Figures and Problems of Monumental Painting in the Netherlands') was published, again with designs by the author. At that date, however, Arondeus was already involved with the Dutch resistance movement.


Willem Arondeus's artpiece

In the spring of 1941, he started an underground periodical in which he tried to incite his fellow artists to resist the Nazi occupation of the Netherlands. Earlier than others, Arondeus realized that the demand by the Nazi occupiers that all Jews register with the local authorities was not, as the Nazis claimed, for their own safety, but rather so they could be deported to the Westerbork concentration camp and from there to the death camps in occupied Poland. A concerted operation was underway to hide Jews among the local population, with various underground organizations preparing forged documents for Jews. Arondeus was a member of one such group, Raad van Verzet (Resistance Council). Within a short while, the Nazis began to uncover the false documents by comparing the names with those in the local population registry. To hinder the Nazis, on March 27, 1943, Arondeus led a group in bombing the population registry in Amsterdam. Thousands of files were destroyed, and the attempt to compare forge documents with the registry were hindered. Within a week, Arondeus and the other members of the group were arrested. They were executed that July.

In 1945, after the liberation of the Netherlands, Arondeus was awarded a posthumous medal by the Dutch government.

Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Willem_Arondeus

Further Readings:

Spirit of Resistance: Dutch Clandestine Literature during the Nazi Occupation by Jeroen Dewulf
Hardcover: 258 pages
Publisher: Camden House (December 1, 2010)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 157113493X
ISBN-13: 978-1571134936
Amazon: Spirit of Resistance: Dutch Clandestine Literature during the Nazi Occupation

Clandestine literature was published in all countries under Nazi occupation, but nowhere else did it flourish as it did in the Netherlands. This raises important questions: What was the content of this literature? What were the risks of writing, printing, selling, and buying it? And why the Netherlands? Traditionally, the combative Dutch 'spirit of resistance' has been cited, a reaction not only to German oppression but to German propaganda: while the Germans hoped to build bonds with their 'Germanic' Dutch 'brothers,' clandestine literature insisted on their incompatibility. However, when reading clandestine literature, one should not forget that this 'spirit of resistance' came rather late and did not prevent the transportation of seventy-three percent of the Netherlands' Jewish population to Nazi death camps -- the largest percentage in Western Europe. The Dutch case is complex: while the country proved to be remarkably resistant to Nazi propaganda, little was done to prevent the actual execution of Nazi policies. The complete story of Dutch clandestine literature therefore combines resistance and complicity, victory and defeat, pride and shame.

More Artists at my website: http://www.elisarolle.com/, My Ramblings/Art

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