The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

Shofar FTP Archive File: orgs/international/red-cross/press/reuters-icrc-950530

Archive/File: orgs/swiss/icrc/press reuter.053095.icrc

 ICRC president admits ``moral failure'' in Holocaust
    By Stephanie Nebehay
    GENEVA, May 30 (Reuter) - Cornelio Sommaruga, president of
 the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), for the
 first time on Tuesday acknowledged the humanitarian agency's
 ``moral failure'' during World War Two.
    Sommaruga, in a statement to mark the 50th anniversary of
 the conflict, said that the ICRC regretted what he called its
 ``possible omissions and errors of the past.''
    The Swiss-run agency has been criticised by historians over
 the years for failing to openly denounce atrocities against Jews
 and other minorities in Hitler's concentration camps.
    A spokesman confirmed it was the first time that the ICRC
 had publicly accepted criticism of its inaction during the
 Holocaust, during which six million European Jews died.
    ``We have taken another look at our own share of the
 responsibility for the almost complete failure by a culture,
 indeed a civilisation, to prevent the systematic genocide of an
 entire people and of certain minority groups,'' Sommaruga said
 in a prepared statement.
    The ICRC managed to achieve a lot during World War Two, in
 particular for prisoners of war, despite the limited scope of
 humanitarian law agreed by member states at the time, according
 to its current president.
    ``But believe me, every moment spent today on our
 humanitarian responsibilities to assist the victims of war and
 political violence reminds me of our institution's moral failure
 with regard to the Holocaust, since it did not succeed in moving
 beyond the limited legal framework established by the states,''
 Sommaruga said.
    ``Today's ICRC can only regret the possible omissions and
 errors of the past,'' he added.
    Asked by a reporter whether his remarks constituted a formal
 apology on behalf of his predecessors, he declined to elaborate.
    Sommaruga also noted that in 1934 the ICRC submitted a draft
 convention setting out measures to protect civilian populations
 in enemy hands and in occupied territories.
    The four Geneva Conventions designed to safeguard the rights
 of civilians as well as armed forces and prisoners of war during
 conflict were only agreed in 1949.

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