Channel 4 has confirmed that Stephen Fry will present a one-hour documentary about a group of misfits, including a gay artist, a lesbian musician and Jewish activists who pulled off one of the most daring and far-reaching acts of sabotage in the history of the Dutch resistance in the Second World War.
The documentary will highlight the story of artist Willem Arondeus and cellist Frieda Belinfante, both of whom lived openly gay lives in the Netherlands, and who forged identity papers for Jews, saving them from being transported to Nazi death camps to be murdered.
The documentary will use previously unseen archive material and intimate interviews with those whose lives were inspired by the pair’s bravery. Fry, who is also Jewish and gay, will draw parallels with his own experiences, today’s struggles for gay rights and the power of individuals to affect change.
Stephen Fry says: “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…”
Shaminder Nahal, Head of Specialist Factual Commissioning at Channel 4 added: “This is such a compelling pairing of a fascinating and largely unknown story with the brilliant wit and insight of Stephen Fry. I hope this film goes some way in elevating the significance and awareness of Willem, Frieda and all of those who were a part of the extraordinary resistance against fascism in World War II.”