Stephen Fry narrates doco on queer WWII heroes

stephen fry Willem Arondeus Frieda Belinfante

Stephen Fry narrates the new British documentary Willem and Frieda: A Story of Resistance about two queer heroes of the Dutch resistance during World War II. Willem Arondeus and Frieda Belinfante belonged to a resistance group that bombed the Amsterdam public records office to undermine the Nazi occupation.

The defiant last words uttered by William Arondeus before his death by firing squad became rightly famous.

“Tell the world that homosexuals are no less courageous than anyone else.”

Artist Willem Arondeus and cellist Frieda Belinfante both joined the Dutch resistance following the German invasion of the Netherlands. They helped forge documents that Dutch Jews used to escape persecution by the Nazis.

Later, they took part in the bombing of Amsterdam’s records office, destroying numerous documents of use to the occupiers. Frieda Belinfante escaped a Nazi round-up of the conspirators, moving to California after the war and becoming a famous cellist.

However, Willem Arondeus and eleven other men went to their deaths for their roles in the bombing. Three of the executed resistance heroes were gay — Willem and two others. Hence his defiant message to the world.

Stephen Fry

Stephen Fry said the world needs heroes like Willem and Frieda.

“I confess that before Rik Carmichael and John Hay sent me the fruits of their amazing research, I had never heard of Willem Arondeus or Frieda Belinfante – a pair whom I now regard as being authentic and remarkable heroes.

“Living their lives as openly gay in the 1930s was remarkable enough, but once the Nazis invaded their homeland of the Netherlands, they found in themselves a depth of courage and determination that is, across the years, still inspiring.

“It’s a question we often ask ourselves – how would I respond to the occupation of my country? Would I fight for freedom or duck down and keep out of trouble?

“I think the world needs to be reminded of Willem and Frieda, ordinary people who found extraordinary inner resources.”

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