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German Red Cross
With over 3.5 million members, it is the third largest Red Cross society in the world. The German Red Cross offers a wide range of services within and outside Germany. GRC provides 52 hospitals, care for the elderly (over 500 nursing homes and a network of ambulant nursing care for the elderly covering all over the country), care for children and youth (i.e. 1.300 kindergartens, full range of social services for children). GRC also provides 75% of the blood supply in Germany as well as 60% of the emergency medical services in Germany, as well as first aid training. GRC headquarters provides international humanitarian aid (disaster management and development assistance) in over 50 countries in the world.
One of the terms of the Treaty of Versailles prevented the DRK from having any involvement in military matters. As a result, during the Weimar Republic under the leadership of Joachim von Winterfeldt-Mencken, the DRK became a national organization focusing on social welfare.
The DRK was quick to respond to the changed circumstances, indeed Winterfeldt-Mencken had always been opposed to the system of parliamentary democracy. The Workers' Samaritan League, a left-wing humanitarian organization, had always been an unwelcome competitor to the DRK. Hocheisen very quickly arranged that it should be taken over by the DRK. Similarly, the DRK moved quickly to rid itself of left-wing members, and in June 1933 it also decided that the Nazi "Law for the Restoration of the Professional Civil Service" should be applied and dismissed its Jewish employees.
However the DRK was still a member of the Red Cross movement, and Germany remained a signatory to the Geneva Convention, so it was not possible for them to apply the same level of "Gleichschaltung" to the DRK as it was to other organizations. The attitude of the ICRC towards the DRKÒs exclusion of the Jews was later expressed in a letter written by Max Huber in 1939. According to him, the primary obligation of neutral treatment as foreseen in the Geneva Convention was to the victims of war, and not to the helpers. He argued that as it was impossible to prescribe rules which were in conflict with the laws of a country, it was better to take a flexible approach than to risk the break-up of the universal Red Cross movement.
In the years after the Nazi takeover, as well as adopting Nazi salutes and symbols, the DRK introduced Nazi ideology into their education. Rescue teams were trained in military conduct, basic concepts of National Socialism, genetics, racial hygiene and demographic policy. More senior staff – doctors, nurses and managers were educated in demographic policy, racial history, racial hygiene, the biology of inheritance and the foundations of genetics. As a preparation for war, the DRK focused on training people to deal with air raids and gas attacks and organised joint exercises with the police and the fire brigades.
The German Red Cross in the Federal Republic was recognized by the International Committee of the Red Cross on 25 June 1952. In the German Democratic Republic the Deutsches Rotes Kreuz der DDR was established on the 23 October 1952 and recognized by the International Red Cross on the 9 November 1954. The German Democratic Republic (GDR) Red Cross issued a magazine named Deutsches Rotes Kreuz (German Red Cross). Albert Schweitzer became an exemplary figure. The DDR Red Cross's status as a separate entity ended on 1 January 1991, when it was merged with the German Red Cross of the Federal Republic.