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125th anniversary of the Swiss Red Cross (1866–1991): Thoughts on past and future

  • Philippe Bender (a1)


Rather than serving as a pretext for noisy celebration and self-congratulation, the 125th anniversary of the founding of the Swiss Red Cross should be an occasion for reflection on our institution's development, its role within the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement and its special situation as the National Society of Switzerland. This is a worthy undertaking, an attempt, as the historian Marc Ferro put it, “to capture time and make it intelligible to others”. But anyone who embarks on such a venture must be careful to avoid rewriting the past according to his own preferences and giving an idealized picture of this humanitarian organization, which has had its share of tensions, setbacks and contradictions, some of them still unresolved.



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1 Ferro, Marc, L'Histoire sous surveillance, Calmann-Lévy, Paris, 1985, p. 177.

2 Haug, Hans, “Lignes directrices du développement de la Croix-Rouge suisse”, in 1866–1966, Centenaire de la Croix-Rouge suisse, offprint from La Croix-Rouge suisse, 75th year, No. 5, p. 14, Bern, 1966.

3 François, Alexis, Le Berceau de la Croix-Rouge, A. Jullien, Geneva, 1918, p. 196.

4 “Mémorial des vingt-cinq premières années de la Croix-Rouge”, in Bulletin international des Sociétés de la Croix-Rouge, XIX, p. 149, Geneva, 1888.

5 Nouvelle Histoire de la Suisse et des Suisses, Vol. III, Payot, Lausanne, 1983, p. 57.

6 Bonjour, Edgar, La Neutralité suisse, synthèse de son histoire, A la Baconnière, Neuchâtel,” 1979, p. 71.

7 Bonjour, Edgar, op.cit., p. 228.

8 Favre, Alice, in La Croix-Rouge suisse, 1 05 1910.

9 Wahlen, F.T., Federal Councillor, in “La Croix-Rouge et la Confédération suisse”, offprint from La Croix-Rouge suisse, 72nd year, No. 5. p. 3, Bern, 1963.


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