Unlike its role in World War I, the operation of the German Red Cross in World War II is highly controversial. President Hindenburg appointed NAZI Pary leader Adolf Hitler Chancellor (January 1933). Hitler quickly moved to orchestrate a NAZI seizure of power. This was not only aolitical seizure of power. The NAZIs moved to seize control of professional groups, youth groups, labor unions and civic organizaions as well. This included social welfare organizations. This was complicated because most German social welfare orgnizations were founded and run by religious groups. The Red Cross (DRK) despite its symbol was not a church organization and thus a relatively easy group for the NAZIs to take over. Jewish members were expelled. The process of seizing control of the German Red Cross began by making sure that NAZIs were appointed to important positions in the orgasnization. Most prominantely this began with the appointment of HRH Duke Charles Edward of Saxe-Coburg as president. The Duke was a NAZI Party menber ans SA officer. The Duke introduced the "Heil Hitler" greeting and the use of NAZI songs official Red Cross events.
We have not yet found a definitive account of the Duke's war-time activities. He almost certinly knew abour the T-4 euthanasia program that killed 100,000 disabled people in Germany. And he must have been aware by the time of Kristallnacht of actions against Jews. While there is no proff that he was personaly involved in the Holocaust or the full extent, it is not possible that he was not aware of some of the killing.
The DRK became legally an organization unit of the NAZI Party (December 1937). The German Red Cross officially came under the control of the Nazi Party under the Ministry of the Interior's Social Welfare Organization.
Ernst-Robert Grawitz was Reichsarzt SS und Polizei (Reich Physician SS and Police) who was appointed to head and throughly Nazify the Grman Red Cross. His wife, Ilse, was the daughter of SS-Obergruppenführer und General der Waffen-SS Siegfried Taubert. He was personally involved in infamous medical experiments on Jews and homosexuals.
He ended the War in Hitlers Berlin Bunker, killing himself and his family.
The Red Cross volunteers helped wounded German soldiers in the field and assisted in their treatment and recuperation. The organization through the International Red Cross (IDRC) assisted Germans held abroad as prisoners or war by the Western Allies and German civilians in the war damaged cities. The German Red Cross as it was run by the NAZIs, largely ignored the concentation camps in Germany as well as the NAZI T-4 euthenasia campaign anf the Holocaust. Some Red Cross personnel even had some degree of involvement, although the organization had no systematic role in their crimes. German Red Cross officials notably escorting ICRC inspectors through the Theresienstadt concentration camp (1944).
The NAZIs surendered to the Allies, ending World War II in Europe (May 1945). Ome of the first acts of The American Military Government was a special law outlawing the NAZI Party--"Law number five". This was the central Denazification decree. It meant that not only the Party, but all of its branches and units were disbaneded. And since the NAZIs had turned the Red Cross into a Party organization, the German Red Cross was effecivedly disbanded. Thus the German Red Cross has to be refounded in the post-War era.
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