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One man’s “terrorist”, is another man’s freedom fighter…

… an old cliche, but nevertheless true;

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Willem Arondeus

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Willem Arondeus was a Dutch resistance fighter who gave his life trying to protect his Jewish countrymen from the Nazis.

Born in Amsterdam in 1895, Willem was one of six children. From a young age, he was a talented artist and his parents encouraged his creativity, until he came out as homosexual at age 17.

In a time when nearly all gay people were in the closet, Willem’s parents could not accept his choice to live openly. Their rejection led Willem to run away from home.

On his own, Willem took odd jobs and eventually became a successful visual artist and writer. He was commissioned to paint a mural for Rotterdam’s town hall, in a style that combined modern abstract painting with a traditional Dutch motif. Willem was a well-respected author who published a popular biography of Dutch painter and political activist Matthijs Maris.

In 1940, Germany invaded the Netherlands. Willem immediately joined the resistance movement, and urged his fellow artists to fight against the Nazi occupation. WIllem published illegal anti-Nazi pamphlets calling for mass resistance against the Germans.

Willem was especially committed to saving Amsterdam’s Jewish community. Bringing in others to the cause, Willem arranged for Dutch Jews to be hidden in people’s homes. He used his artistic skills to create false identity papers.

In 1943, Willem hatched a brazen plan. Dressed as a German Army captain, and with 15 men behind him, Willem boldly marched into the Public Record Office, where lists identifying people as Jews were kept. Willem drugged the guards and planted a firebomb. The resulting blaze destroyed tens of thousands of documents, and delayed or prevented many Jews from being identified by the Nazis.

Unfortunately, Willem was captured by the Germans and sentenced to death. Willem’s last words before being executed in July, 1943 were, “Let it be known that homosexuals are not cowards.”

In 1986 Yad Vashem recognized Arondeus as Righteous Among the Nations.

Because of his sexual orientation, Willem’s story was omitted from Dutch history books. Only in the last 20 years has his courage become widely known.

[Reprinted from Accidental Talmudist]

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One wonders if the current National government would have added Mr Arondeus to their list of known terrorists, and ACT condemned him for destroying private property?

 

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= fs =

 

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RIP, ‘White Mouse’…

8 August 2011 2 comments

Wellington-born WWII heroine Nancy Wake has died in London, aged 98.

Ms Wake, who was born in Roseneath but left New Zealand as a toddler, was living in France when Nazi Germany invaded during World War II. She joined the French Resistance and was smuggled to England for specialist training.

She was the Allies’ most decorated servicewoman, collecting bravery awards from France, England, Australia and the United States.

In 1944 she was parachuted back into France, where she co-ordinated the efforts of thousands of fighters and fought alongside them.

Ms Wake – codenamed the “The White Mouse” because of her ability to elude capture – at one point was No 1 on the Gestapo’s most wanted list, with an offer of five million francs for anyone who reported her or killed her.

The Daily Telegraph reported that Ms Wake died yesterday in a hospital in London, where she had lived since 2001.

A close friend confirmed Ms Wake’s death early this morning.

She was recognised locally last year with a new “heritage pylon”, unveiled by former Wellington Mayor Kerry Prendergast in Oriental Pde.

Rest in Peace, White Mouse.

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More  on Ms Wake.

Veteran ‘disgusted’ war heroine never recognised

Feminists call for ‘White Mouse’ memorial