Arnold Aletrino

Arnold Aletrino (1858 - 1916) was a Dutch criminal anthropologist and writer, who published works on homosexuality in Dutch and French. He was a member of the 'Tachtigers' (= 1880'ers), a group of young and revolutionary Dutch authors, who despised the pious poetry and prose of the mid-nineteenth century Dutch Victorian writers.


Arnold Aletrino was born 1 April,1858 in Amsterdam to Salomon Aletrino and Selima Pineda.

As a medical student, he befriended Frederik van Eeden, who was to be a well-known psychiatrist and one of the most famous Tachtigers. In 1892, he married Rachel Mendes da Costa, who committed suicide five years later. Later, he married Jupie van Stockum. Aletrino never had children.

Aletrino published between 1889 and 1906 a few novels and collections of stories, all extremely bleak and cheerless in atmosphere. During this time, he worked as a medical doctor for the city of Amsterdam, especially for its firemen.

In his final years, an incurably ill man, he lived with his wife in Switzerland. Aletrino died 16 January,1916 in Chernex, Switzerland, near Geneva.


Aletrino had been schooled by Cesare Lombroso, who attempted to explain criminality in light of a degenerating central nervous system. Aletrino broke with Lombroso over homosexuals in a Dutch article in 1897, in which he claimed that homosexuality could occur in otherwise perfectly normal and healthy individuals. In later works he campaigned against the legal intolerance and prohibition of homosexuality in Europe.

In 1901 he defended homosexuals at the Fifth Congress of Criminal Anthropology in Amsterdam. He was accused of "defending immorality." He continued to fight throughout his life to engender a more tolerant and understanding attitude of homosexuality. In 1912 he participated in founding the Dutch branch of the Scientific Humanitarian Committee, which was first founded in Germany in 1897 by gay rights pioneer Magnus Hirschfeld.


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