1894 - 1943

"Let it be known that homosexuals are not cowards."

- Willem Arondeus (his last words before being shot by a firing squad)

Against his parents’ wishes, he left home at 18 to pursue his dream of being an artist, struggling for almost 10 years with virtually no recognition of his considerable talent. He turned to writing just as he began to discover his same sex desires in the company of a younger man named Jan with whom he fell deeply in love. After completing the biography of a gay Parisian artist who fought alongside intellectuals and artists in the wake of the Franco-Prussian War, Arondeus was inspired to join the Dutch Resistance that faced down the German occupation of The Netherlands in May 1940. In 1943 he led a raid that resulted in the destruction of the Citizen Registration Building of Amsterdam, the Nazi’s primary means of tracking the movements of the people it sought to control. This inspired similar successful attacks throughout the country.  Arondeus and his gay comrades were betrayed and sentenced to death by firing squad on July 1, 1943. He asked his lawyer to make their homosexuality public after the war so “The people would know that gays are no cowards!” After the war Arondeus estranged family received a medal of honour from the Dutch government for his sacrifice. But it was not until a TV documentary in 1990 that it become known to the general public that Arondeus, and those who were martyred with him, were gay.


Gender Male

Sexual Orientation Gay

Gender Identity Cisgender

Ethnicity Caucasian/White

Nations Affiliated Netherlands

Era/Epoch World War II (1939-1945)

Field(s) of Contribution




Social Justice

Commemorations & Honors

Dutch Government Arwarded the Arondeus Family Posthumous Medal in Willem's Honor (1945)

Posthumous Netherlands Resistance Memorial Cross Award (1984)

Yad Vashem Recognized Arondeus as Righteous Among the Nations (1986)


Original Biography Author
Owen Keehnen
Biography Edited By
Victor Salvo
Resources Coordination
Carrie Maxwell