Tag Archives: WWII

Gay History – July 1943: Gay Resistance Fighter Willem Arondeus Executed By The Nazis “Let it be known that homosexuals are not cowards!”

Dutch painter and writer Willem Arondeus during World War II hatched a plan to burn the Bevolkingsregister which housed the citizen registration office in Amsterdam where the Nazis kept copies of all of the identity cards held by Dutch citizens.

In the spring of 1941, Arondeus 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. In the spring of 1942, Arondeus founded Brandarisbrief, an illegal periodical in which he expressed the artist’s opposition to the edicts imposed by the Reichskulturkammer (Reich Chamber of Culture), the Nazis’ cultural committee.

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 .Within a short while, the Nazis began to expose the false documents by comparing the names with those in the local population registry. To hinder the Nazis, late on March 27, 1943   Arondeus led a group in bombing the Amsterdam Public Records Office. 

Arondeus and fourteen others, including two young doctors, donned German uniforms, asked the building’s guards to open the building for a special inspection. As soon as they gained entry, the two doctors injected the guards to put them asleep and placed them in the courtyard away from harm while the rest of the crew set fire to the building. Thousands of files were destroyed, and the attempt to compare forged documents with the registry was hindered. 

Five days later, an unknown spy informed on the group to the Nazis, which in turn arrested them. During the trial, Arondeus took full responsibility for the fire. The two doctors were sentenced to life in prison, but the rest were ordered to go before a firing squad.

On July 1st. 1943 in his last message before his execution, Arondeus, who had lived openly as a gay man before the war, asked his lawyer to pass a long this message:

“Let it be known that homosexuals are not cowards!”


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Gay WWII Codebreaker Alan Turing to Be On UK £50 Note

Gay WWII Codebreaker Alan Turing to Be On UK £50 Note

Alan Turing, the scientist known for helping crack the Enigma code during the second world war and pioneering the modern computer, has been chosen to appear on the new £50 note.

From the Bank of England’s site:

“Alan Turing provided the theoretical underpinnings for the modern computer. While best known for his work devising code-breaking machines during WWII, Turing played a pivotal role in the development of early computers first at the National Physical Laboratory and later at the University of Manchester. He set the foundations for work on artificial intelligence by considering the question of whether machines could think. Turing was homosexual and was posthumously pardoned by the Queen having been convicted of gross indecency for his relationship with a man. His legacy continues to have an impact on both science and society today.”

Turing was selected from a list of almost 1,000 scientists in a decision that recognised both his role in fending off the threat of German U-boats in the Battle of the Atlantic and the impact of his postwar persecution for homosexuality.

British Spy Agency Head Apologizes For Agency’s Past Treatment Of Homosexuals

British Spy Agency Head Apologies For Agency's Past Treatment Of Homosexuals

The head of Britain’s digital espionage agency, GCHQ chief Robert Hannigan has apologized for the organization’s historic prejudice against homosexuals, that the agency’s ban on homosexuals had caused long-lasting psychological damage to many and were excluded from working there saying it failed to learn from the treatment of World War II codebreaker Alan Turing.

“The fact that it was common practice for decades reflected the intolerance of the times and the pressures of the Cold War, but it does not make it any less wrong and we should apologize for it,” Hannigan said. At GCHQ, Turing is now seen as a genius— “a problem-solver who was not afraid to think differently and radically,”

Homosexuals were not only discriminated in the agency’s past but were also fired from their jobs if found out and forced to go into “treatment” because of the belief that homosexuals were more easily corruptible and could be blackmailed because of their sexuality into giving up secrets or being turned to work for the other side.

Now more than five decades later in January of 2016 Britain’s MI5 spy agency was  named that country’s best employer for promoting lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender diversity.