Did the International Red Cross do enough?

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Attempt to intervene

In March 1944 the Germans invaded their former ally, Hungary, and began to plan the deportation of the Hungarian Jews.

The Red Cross did attempt to intervene. In early 1945 the Red Cross further attempted to negotiate with the German authorities to exchange civilian prisoners. This came far too late. The large majority of Jews were already dead.

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Think!

Did the International Red Cross do enough to oppose the Nazis and to save the Jews of Europe?

What methods did the Nazis use to cover up the reality of the Theresienstadt camp-ghetto?

Suggest reasons why the Red Cross did not do more to help save the Jews of Europe.

Founded in 1863, the Red Cross was as a neutral organisation in times of war.

By the spring of 1942, the organisation knew of the ‘Final Solution’. However, it neither publicly condemned the Nazi atrocities, nor did it challenge the German government to respect human rights.

Theresienstadt

In an attempt to dispel the rumours of the mass murder of Jews, the Nazis invited a Red Cross delegation to visit Theresienstadt on 23 June 1944.

In order to deceive the Red Cross, the Nazis adapted the camp into a model Jewish town. They covered up the gruesome conditions of life. They planted trees and established gardens and set up play areas for children.

There was even a bank and a cafe. However, there was no food in the cafe; nor was there any money in the bank. A film was made showing cultural life in the camp including concerts.

The deception worked. The Red Cross delegation reported that it had been impressed by the conditions in Theresienstadt. The reality was that the people who had participated in the film were sent to Auschwitz-Birkenau and murdered.

Today the Red Cross admits it could have done more to save the Jews of Europe.