the Red Cross and the Holocaust


The Red Cross was founded in 1863 by Henry Dunant, a Swiss businessman horrified by what he witnessed in the Italian battlefield during the Battle of Volturno. By 1933, the Red Cross was the central humanitarian player in drafting the modern laws of war. In fact, the Red Cross organized the conference that drafted the original Geneva Convention.

As such, it’s unfathomable that the Red Cross would become close to H!tler’s N*zi Germany. Not only did the Red Cross have prior knowledge of the Holocaust — and did nothing about it — but they also helped N*zis escape justice after the end of the war.


By the start of World War II, the Red Cross, which was based in neutral Switzerland, had a policy of non-interference and “neutrality” regarding the N*zis’ racial policies.

Instead, the Red Cross chose only to concern itself with the treatment of prisoners of war from countries that had signed the 1929 Geneva Convention. However, they opted not to interfere regarding the treatment of civilians.

Following H!tler’s rise to power in 1933, the Red Cross chose to “conform” to the new regime, rather than oppose it. In fact, an SS general, Ernst-Robert Grawitz, became the head of the German Red Cross in 1933. Grawitz was closely involved in the plans to murder disabled people and in N*zi medical experimentation. The German Red Cross thus essentially became a N*zi medical unit, rather than a humanitarian organization. When pressed about it, the German Red Cross claimed that, by allying themselves with the N*zi regime, they’d have access to concentration camps, which would ensure that the inmates would be “treated better.”


In the 1990s, the Red Cross finally officially admitted that they’d long had previous knowledge of the N*zis plans for the total extermination of Jews and Roma.

As early as 1933, the Red Cross received desperate pleas from prisoners in Dachau concentration camp, begging for intervention. By 1942, the Red Cross had full knowledge of the Germans’ atrocities. In early 1945, the president of the Red Cross wrote, “Concerning the Jewish problem in Germany, we are in close and continual contact with the German authorities.” The use of the phrase “Jewish problem,” of course, is indicative of the attitude of the Red Cross, considering the very same phrase was used in the N*zis’ “final solution to the Jewish problem” (in other words, the N*zi plan for the total genocide of the Jewish People).

A representative of the Red Cross who’d visited several of the camps falsely claimed that other than segregation, “no other discrimination was made against [Jewish POWs].”


By 1943, word of German atrocities toward the Jewish People had spread throughout the world. Following the deportation of ~500 Danish Jews to Theresienstadt, the Danish authorities pressured the International Red Cross to visit the camp/ghetto to check on its conditions (for more on this, check out my recent post, THE DANISH & THE HOLOCAUST).

The N*zis saw this visit as an opportunity to spread their propaganda. Nearly 8000 Jews were immediately sent to Auschwitz to counteract reports of overcrowding in Theresienstadt. In Auschwitz, these Jews were placed in a “special unit” in the event that the Red Cross chose to visit them.

The camp/ghetto was “cleaned up.” For example, buildings were painted and a football field was staged. “Cultural activities” were promoted to create the illusion that the Jewish prisoners were thriving. The Red Cross officials were taken on a tour of a pre-planned route and interviewed prisoners who’d been trained on what to say. Unsurprisingly, the Red Cross left Theresienstadt with a glowing report.


Both the Red Cross and the Vatican were responsible for the escape of thousands of high-level N*zi officials after the end of the war. In fact, the two worked together to ensure their escape. The Red Cross alone was responsible for issuing around 120,000 travel documents, many to N*zis. They also issued 25,000 new identity documents. It was due to the actions of the Red Cross that high-level war criminals such as Adolf Eichmann and Josef Mengele were able to escape.

To this day, the Red Cross has refused to comment on these findings, claiming that the travel documents were “misused” by war criminals, rather than acknowledging that the organization took an active role in ensuring their escape. The Red Cross also claims that individual N*zi sympathizers within the organization were responsible for this; in other words, this was a problem of a few bad apples. In reality, recent findings show that this was a systemic problem and that high-level Red Cross officials were well-aware of the issue.

The second in command at the Red Cross, Carl Jacob Burckhardt, even decried the Nuremberg Trials, calling them “Jewish revenge.” In the decades after the war, the Red Cross continually whitewashed its actions both during and after the Holocaust, only admitting to some wrongdoing in the 1990s.

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