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Myths, practices, turning points

This book offers new insights into the history of the Red Cross Movement, the world’s oldest humanitarian body originally founded in 1863 in Geneva, Switzerland. Incorporating new research, the book reimagines and re-evaluates the Red Cross as a global institutional network. It is the first book of its kind to focus on the rise of the Red Cross, and analyses the emergence of humanitarianism through a series of turning points, practices and myths. The book explores the three unique elements that make up the Red Cross Movement: the International Committee of the Red Cross; the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent, formerly known as the League of Red Cross Societies (both based in Geneva); and the 191 national societies. It also coincides with the centenary of the founding of the International Federation of the Red Cross and Red Crescent, formed in May 1919 in the aftermath of the First World War. The book will be invaluable for students, lecturers, humanitarian workers, and those with a general interest in this highly recognizable and respected humanitarian brand. With seventeen chapters by leading scholars and researchers from Europe, the UK, Australia, New Zealand and America, the book deserves a place on the bookshelves of historians and international relations scholars interested to learn more about this unique, complex and contested organisation.

An Interview with Rainer Schlösser, Spokesperson of the Association of the Red Cross Museums in Germany (Arbeitsgemeinschaft der deutschen Rotkreuz-Museen)
Sönke Kunkel

Sönke Kunkel (SK): First of all, thank you for taking the time for this interview and thanks for the lively tour through its exhibit! I was wondering if you could perhaps first say a few words about the museum itself: How did it get started and what is it doing? Rainer Schlösser (RS): Well, like many German Red Cross Museums, we started out with a small collection and a small room, in 2000, and then, over time, gradually expanded. In 2007, we were granted the opportunity to extend the museum to a number of rooms on the first floor, and since 2012 we have

Journal of Humanitarian Affairs
Continuities, changes and challenges
Neville Wylie
Melanie Oppenheimer
, and
James Crossland

For over 150 years, the ‘Red Cross’ has brought succour to the world’s needy – from sick and wounded soldiers on the battlefield to political detainees, internally displaced people, and those suffering from the effects of natural disasters – as well as having played a major role in a range of global developments in public health, such as blood transfusion. The world’s pre-eminent humanitarian movement, its relevance and status today are as high as they have ever been in its long history. At the time of writing, headlines carry news of the efforts of the

in The Red Cross Movement
Caroline Reeves

On 5 March 1895, word spread through the north Chinese port city of Niuzhuang that the Japanese army was on its way to take the city. 1 The Japanese had already conquered and devastated much of northern Manchuria in the Sino-Japanese war of 1894–5, and the Chinese civilians who had not yet fled Niuzhuang prepared what they could against the looming threat. 2 Scottish medical missionary Dr Dugald Christie, a prominent figure in China’s European-led first wave of the Red Cross Movement described the terror in the city: In the main street we noticed a very

in The Red Cross Movement
Iris Müller

law as an equally relevant source of international law. Questions related to customary international law – and especially customary international humanitarian law – have therefore long been of importance to the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC). The publication of the International Committee of the Red Cross’s study on ‘Customary International Humanitarian Law’ (the Study) in 2005 is a testament to that. 9 Since 2010, the Study has also been available on the International Committee of the Red Cross’s online database on customary international

in International organisations, non-State actors, and the formation of customary international law
Helena F. S. Lopes

In a 1946 report reviewing its activities during the Second World War, the Portuguese Red Cross Society (PRCS) praised its Macau delegation for its impressive performance: High were the amounts remitted by the Macau delegation to the prisoners interned in Shanghai and Hong Kong, as well as those it spent with the poor refugees who took shelter in our possession in the Far East … As for its correspondence service, it was truly admirable. To these headquarters alone the delegation sent around 1,000 telegrams from refugees – telegrams that were retransmitted

in The Red Cross Movement
Humanitarian diplomacy and the cultures of appeasement in Britain
Rebecca Gill

If, as Karina Urbach writes, ‘what happened during the summer of 1938 was a long theatre performance with an excellent cast of German go-betweens’, then the Sixteenth International Conference of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) held in London in June that year provided one of the most prestigious settings for these encounters. 1 This spectacle of internationalism reveals the contribution of humanitarian diplomacy to a history of appeasement that has dealt almost exclusively with the masculine ‘high’ diplomacy of the Foreign Office. It is

in The Red Cross Movement
Finding a role after the Second World War
Rosemary Cresswell

In 1974 the British Red Cross Society (BRCS) commissioned an ‘Attitude Survey’, the analysis of which concluded that the public knew much more about the organisation’s wartime than peacetime activities. Another survey completed during that year revealed that the number of younger members was in decline. 1 Since the late 1940s, the BRCS had faced challenges regarding its identity and public perception, leading to the repositioning of the charity at a time of tremendous political, social and economic change. Indeed, in 1947, the BRCS’s Public Relations

in The Red Cross Movement
Victoria Coldham-Fussell

2 considered the comic exposure of Red Crosse’s spiritual pride in detail, but the connection between this pride and what I am calling his ‘problem with desire’ demands a chapter of its own. Some will object that ‘The Legend of Holiness’ only superficially concerns romantic themes: Red Crosse looks like a foolish lover, but his foolishness is our collective fallen nature, and he is seduced by falsehood, not a woman. Yet, rather than leaving sexual ethics at the door, we need to recognise the extent to which they go right to the heart of Red Crosse’s spiritual

in Comic Spenser
Neville Wylie

The ‘parcels crisis’ of 1940–1 concerned the faltering efforts of the British Red Cross Society (BRCS) to supply relief parcels to British prisoners of war (POWs) captured by Germany during the Battle of France in May/June 1940. On the face of it, the subject might appear rather trivial. The numbers of men involved – some 45,000 – were comparatively modest when set against the 2 million French, Polish, Belgian, Dutch and Norwegian servicemen who fell into German hands at the same time. Likewise, fretting over the dispatch of relief parcels to men who enjoyed

in The Red Cross Movement