The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

The Red Cross Responds
to a request to aid detainees

Comite International                International Red Cross Committee
de la Croix Rouge a Geneve, Suisse  in Geneva, Switzerland
Delegation aux Etats-Unis           The Delegation to the United States
d'Amerique                          of America

2500 Que Street, N. W.
Washington, D. C.
Ref: S/4
July 21, 1943

American Jewish Congress
330 West 42nd Street
New York, New York


Referring to your letter of Jane 16 (and our letter of June 30), a Copy of which we sent to our headquarters in Geneva, I am herewith enclosing an excerpt of a copy of the reply which we received from our headquarters in Geneva on this subject.

You will see from the enclose that it is, unfortunately, extremely difficult for the International Red Cross Committee to help the Jewish population in Germany and the occupied countries. As we have written to you before, the German authorities do not consider the civilians who are arrested in occupied countries, including France, as civilian internees, thereby excluding them. from the application (by analogy) of The Geneva Convention regarding Prisoners of War. The International Red Cross Committee's field of action, unfortunately, does not include this large category, known as "detained civilians".

Inasmuch as it is impossible for the International Committee to visit the camps where these people are interned, the Committee is not in a position to check on the distribution of relief supplies. For this reason these concentration camps are not included in the category of internment camps to which the Blockade authorities allow relief supplies from overseas to be sent, Furthermore, the International Red Cross Committee does not receive any lists of the names of the Detained Civilians.

Our headquarters in Geneva profoundly regrets this situation, even more so because they realize that this category of internees is in especial need of relief. Our headquarters is doing everything in its power to find an acceptable solution, enabling relief to be sent to these people, and they are looking for means of checklng relief distribution which would satisfy the Blockade authorities. It seems, however, that the facilities accorded to us by the German authorities in this field, still do not correspond to the guarantees which are required.

It is our opinion that this category of internees should not be deprived of the privileges accorded to Prisoners of War and Civilian Internees just because the distribution of relief supplies to this group could not be exercised as satisfactorily as in the regular in ternment camps.

Whenever we hear more from our headquarters on this subject, we shall notify you immediately.

Sincerely yours,

Peter Wehrli
Assistant to the Delegate


Source:1993 Days of Remembrance, United States Holocaust Memorial Museum

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