The Red Cross and the Third Reich - On the Failure of Help

For a long time after the war the International Red Cross (ICRC) claimed to have had a mandate under international law only for prisoners-of-war.

The documentary proves that this argument does not hold water. Recent historical research has proved that there was no assistance for the millions of Jews and those of so-called "Jewish descent" threatened by death in the territories under German control, mainly out of consideration for the interests of Switzerland. In addition, the ICRC leadership itself was not free of anti-Semitism. Moreover, intervention was deemed inopportune in view of the co-operation with the German Red Cross. There Jews had long since been expelled and the top positions occupied by Nazis. In spring 1942 the German Red Cross informed the ICRC in Geneva that enquiries about so-called "non-Aryan" concentration camp inmates and missing persons could no longer be dealt with. Even the - in any case very rare - inspections of concentration camps by the Red Cross did not result in any help. On the contrary, the report of the ICRC delegate Maurice Rossel, a doctor and officer of the Swiss army, on his visit to the concentration camp Theresienstadt was so positive that NS propaganda was happy to quote it. The examples of other ICRC delegates prove that representatives of the Red Cross definitely did have the possibility to help. Respect for the commitment and courage of individuals only serves to highlight the failure of the majority. A failure that continued tragically into the post-war era when the ICRC took over the responsibility for the International Tracing Service in Bad Arolsen.

Also available in 45 min. German version.