August 22, 1894|
|Died||July 1, 1943
|Known for||Member of the Dutch Resistance|
|Notable work(s)||Matthĳs Maris: de tragiek van den droom ('The Tragedy of the Dream')|
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 The poems and stories he had written in the 1920s went unpublished, but in the year 1938 he published two novels, Het Uilenhuis ('The Owls House') and In de bloeiende Ramenas ('In the Blossoming Winter Radish'), both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.
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 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."
In 1945, after the liberation of the Netherlands, Arondeus was awarded a posthumous medal by the Dutch government.
- Dantzig, Rudi van: Het leven van Willem Arondéus 1894-1943: een documentaire. Amsterdam, 2003.
- Entrop, Marco: Onbekwaam in het compromis. Willem Arondéus, kunstenaar en verzetsstrĳder. Amsterdam, 1993.