German Red Cross uncovers its pro-Nazi past
In a new book about German Red Cross from 1933-1945 the authors discuss the organisations neglect towards the horrors of concentration camps and Jewish ghettos.
27 June 2008
GERMANY - Joining a series of leading German institutions that have uncovered their wartime collaboration with the Nazis, the German Red Cross admitted Tuesday its failure to help concentration- camp inmates.
Launching a book about the Red Cross from 1933 to 1945, Rudolf Seiters, president of the German Red Cross and a former cabinet minister, said, "It's sad to realise how far the Red Cross departed from its humanitarian principles."
The history describes how Red Cross volunteers helped wounded German soldiers in the field, Germans held abroad as prisoners or war and German civilians as they were bombed, but ignored obvious Nazi horrors such as the camps and the confinement of Jews in ghettoes.
The study says the German Red Cross, which is affiliated with the Geneva-based International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), expelled Jewish members when the Nazis took over and was interlocked with the Nazis, though it had no systematic role in their crimes.
Among the low points of its collaboration was escorting ICRC inspectors through Theresienstadt concentration camp as late as 1944, according to Birgitt Morgenbrod and Stephanie Merkenich, the book's authors.
Theresienstadt was a show camp, where inmates were better treated as a front to impress the outside world and cover up the appalling abuses in the concentration-camps system, where many other inmates died of disease, starvation, overwork or by execution.
Germany's Catholic and Lutheran churches and several leading business corporations have made similar revelations in recent years about their collaboration with the regime of Dictator Adolf Hitler.