Armando (1929-2018) was both a writer and one of the Netherlands’ most important post-war artists. Born in Amsterdam, he lived in Amersfoort during World War Two, growing up in the vicinity of the infamous Amersfoort concentration camp. By his own account, this kindled his enduring fascination with good and evil, and how certain kinds of circumstances can drive people to violence. In the 1960s, Armando was a leading voice of the ‘New Poetry’ movement: he believed poets were to be a ‘cool, clinical eye’ and create a representation of reality. His prose is similarly rooted in observation of the real world. First published in 1967, The SS Men, co-written with poet and journalist Hans Sleutelaar (1935-2020), is informed by this approach. From 1979 onwards, Armando spent a lot of time in Berlin, reporting on his experiences there for the daily NRC Handelsblad. Both his artworks and his writing have received numerous awards.

The SS Men

The SS Men

Dutch Volunteers in the Second World War

(De Bezige Bij, 1967, 474 pages)

In May 1967, the publishing house De Bezige Bij – founded in 1942 by members of the Resistance – published The SS Men: Dutch Volunteers in the Second World War. The steel-grey cover and stark visual design emphasized the grim factuality of the subject matter: interviews with eight Dutch nationals who had joined the SS of their own free will. Their words were reproduced without commentary, as continuous statements.

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