Risk of explosion! Gays in the resistance during World War Two

Gay and Lesbian people played a leading role in one of the most famous acts of resistance during the Second World War in Amsterdam. This spectacular operation took place in 1943: an attack on the Registry Office. Wim Arondeus and Frieda Belifante were a gay man and lesbian woman, who had a leading role in this operation. Sjoerd Bakker was a gay man who assisted the group with making fake police uniforms. The Dutch Resistance Museum now has an interactive exhibition Risk of explosion! where you can experience what it means to be a resistance fighter.

The attack on the Registry Office

Dutch resistance fighters drawn by Rob Worst
Six of the resistance fighters, with Frieda Belifante (bottom middle) and Wim Arondeus (bottom right) (c) Rob Worst

On Saturday 27 March 1943, a group of artists and students dressed as police officers and detectives enters the Amsterdam Registry Office. They overpower and sedate the real police officers, tie them up and move them to the Artis garden. Back inside, they remove the identity cards from the archive cabinets and place the explosives. The resistance fighters rush out of the building nearly two hours later, leaving a sign on the door: Risk Of Explosion! A while later, they hear a number of loud bangs. A fiery blaze colours the sky red. The attack was a success.

The attack was significant, because it was an major attempt to way stop the bureaucracy of the Nazi occupiers. The fact that several members of the resistance group where gay or lesbian was also important. The Nazis used this in their propaganda after the execution of Wim Arondeus, Sjoerd Bakker and ten other members of the resistance group. Frieda Belifante was able to escape to Switzerland and survived the war. She later emigrated to California where she became active as a musician in Hollywood an Orange County.

The exhibition ‘Risk of Explosion’

At the exhibition you can discover the reasons behind the attack, how it was carried out, and the devastating consequences. You will meet the people who planned the attack: Gerrit van der Veen, Willem Arondéus, Frieda Belinfante, Willem Sandberg, Johan Brouwer, and Koen Limperg. A 3D audio tour will take you from room to room. In those rooms gigantic comics by Rob Worst will bring the story visually to live. The narrator takes you into the world of the artists who planned the attack. Forge identity cards like they did, discuss the use of violence and discover how it feels to be locked up in a death cell. A truly immersive experience.

Visitor information

Opening times of the Dutch Resistance Museum:

  • Monday to Friday 10AM – 5PM
  • Saturday and Sunday  11AM – 5PM

Entry prices:

  • Adults: € 11,-
  • Children 7-16/ISIC: € 6,-
Dutch Resistance Museum

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Dutch Resistance Museum 52.367738, 4.912801

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