The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

Shofar FTP Archive File: orgs/international/red-cross/press/reuters-icrc-960830

From the Detroit Free Press, August 30, 1996, p. 6A:

   WWII documents bolster Nazi-Red Cross connection
   By Arthur Spiegelman
   CHICAGO -- The International Committee of the Red Cross, which
   prides itself on being nonpolitical, is accused in previously
   secret World War II documents of being used and "probably
   controlled" at its highest levels by German intelligence.
   The U.S. intelligence documents allege that ICRC representatives
   worked as agents conveying military information to Berlin, even
   using U.S. diplomatic mail to get material out.  They also allege
   Red Cross pouches were used to ferry German assets into
   Switzerland and the group itself was used to smuggle German agents
   across European borders.
   Marked "Washington office items not previously released," the
   Office of Strategic Services documents were found recently in the
   U.S. National Archives by World Jewish Congress researchers trying
   to trace assets of Holocaust victims.
   In Geneva, ICRC spokesman Kim Gordon-Bates said: "We know that
   documents are being made available...from various archives but we
   have not seen them and cannot comment."
   But he added the ICRC, a Nobel Peace Prize winner, works under
   difficult ethical and practical guidelines.  It always tried to
   recruit the best people but mistakes could be made, especially
   during war, he said.
   One OSS document, dated Jan. 11, 1944, says:  "A series of
   observations commenced by the French and continued by this
   organization indicate that the I.R.C.C. is probably controlled by
   the German I.S.  The German delegate to the I.R.C.C. in Geneva is
   known to be a German agent and the head of the I.R.C.C. to be
   German controlled."
   The document adds:  "Enough is known to warrant the assumption
   that any delegate of the I.R.C.C. should be considered a potential
   if not actual German I.S. agent."  The letters I.S. stood for
   Intelligence Service.
   The OSS was the wartime U.S. intelligence agency and the
   forerunner of the Central Intelligence Agency.
   Another document, dated Feb. 4, 1944, says:  "Information has come
   from various sources which indicates that the International Red
   Cross may have a number of people in its organization and indeed,
   on its executive staff, who are either German agents or associates
   of German agents, and who are using the Red a cover for
   the securing and transmitting of military information."
   In 1995, the ICRC, which coordinates Red Cross work around the
   world, acknowledge its "moral failure" during the war -- a
   reference to its failure to denounce atrocities against Jews and
   other minorities in Hitler's concentration camps.
   A spokesman for the World Jewish Congress said the more than 200
   pages of documents had been turned over to the Senate Banking
   Committee, headed by Sen. Alfonse D'Amato, R-N.Y., for
   A May 21, 1945, document said Red Cross pouches were being used to
   smuggle "concentrated forms of wealth" from Germany to Turkey and
   then to Switzerland.  A Feb. 4, 1944, document said the Red Cross
   representative in French North Africa "may be involved in the
   intelligence activities of the enemy but the evidence is not
   conclusive as yet.  He is said by some to be very stupid and by
   others to be an enemy agent, not so stupid.  In any case many of
   his associates are suspect."
   That document also says the Red Cross was being used by the
   Germans to smuggle agents out of France.
   An August 1945 document said a Red Cross representative suspected
   of being a German agent was using the U.S. diplomatic pouch in
   Algiers to send materials out of the country and evade censorship.
   One Red Cross representative in Cairo is described in an Aug. 16,
   1945, document as "one of the most dangerous pro-fascists among
   Swiss residents abroad."  Another Swiss national representing the
   Red Cross in Istanbul is described as "entertaining girls" from
   local bars and paying them to collect information from U.S. and
   British servicemen.
   Gordon-Bates said the ICRC had been informed earlier about an
   alleged pro-Nazi delegate in Turkey and had asked an independent
   historian to investigate.  The delegate was accused of using the
   ICRC pouch to transfer funds.
   "He did in fact misuse the ICRC diplomatic pouch to transfer
   funds, but we don't know what these funds were, whether they were
   Jewish funds," Gordon-Bates said.
   He said the historian will try to find out whether the delegate
   acted alone.  He also said the man was "cashiered" from the ICRC
   in 1945 as soon as the agency learned of his activities.
   "But we would like to know whether the rot went any deeper.  We're
   very keen to find out about this," Gordon-Bates said, adding:
   "We're not making excuses.  We're saying that whatever emerged is
   possible. It's something we'll have to live with and hope that it
   will never happen again."

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