The Red Cross and the Geneva Convention

The Red Cross was founded in 1863. The initiatior was the Swiss banker Henry Dunant (1828-1910). By coincidence he arrived in 1859, a day after the Battle of Solferino (Italy) on the battlefield, where a day earlier the Franco-Sardinian alliance under Emperor Napeleon III had fought against the Austrian Army under Emperor Franz Josef I.

Dunant was appalled by what he found: on the battlefield were 40,000 wounded and dying, and no one attending to them. Immediately he asked the people from the area, and particularly the women, to help the soldiers. After returning home, he decided to write a book about his experiences. In that book, he also suggested the establishment of a neutral organization that cared for the wounded during a war. Thus he laid the foundations for the Red Cross, which was founded in 1863 in Geneva. Dunant was one of the founders.

The Geneva Convention is the collective name for several treaties drawn up between 1863 and 2005 and based on the principles formulated by the Red Cross. Initially it was concerned only for the health and care of wounded soldiers on the battlefield, but later it also added: care for wounded, sick and shipwrecked of the armed forces at sea, war prisoners, refugees and civilians. Medical personnel serving during wars should be protected at all times under the Convention.

As a symbol of the Red Cross, Henri Dunant chose a red cross on a white background selected, which is the reverse of the Swiss flag.

The symbol of the Red Cros
Source: Public domain / Wikipedia

Henri Dunant 1860
Source: Public domain / Wikipedia

painting of the Battle of Solferino by Jean-Louis Ernst Meissonier
Source: Public domain / Wikipedia

More about...