NEW YORK, Oct. 8 (JTA) – Add the Red Cross to the list of
groups that have recently apologized for remaining silent during the
The director of archives for the International Red Cross, George Willemin, acknowledged this week the organization’s “moral failure” at a ceremony at the Yad Vashem Holocaust memorial in Jerusalem. He also delivered 60,000 pages of Red Cross documents to be given to three Jewish museums. “The ICRC admits – yes – that it has kept silent with regard to the Holocaust, and I would say that this is the heart of the moral failure,” he said. The Red Cross apology came days after the French Roman Catholic Church issued a statement of repentance for its silence during the persecution of Jews in Nazi-occupied France. The ICRC, which is based in Switzerland, discounted reports of a 1940 mass murder in Lublin, Poland, according to a statement from Yad Vashem. This was not its only failure. As reports of extermination camps began to spread in 1944, the Red Cross visited the Theresienstadt ghetto in Czechoslovakia at the invitation of the Nazis. The Nazis cleaned up the ghetto by lessening overcrowded conditions by sending prisoners to Auschwitz and adding a bank, shops and schools. The ruse worked. The Red Cross reported that allegations of extermination camps were unfounded. In the latter stages of the war, the Red Cross did work with Jewish organizations in rescuing Jews, according to Yehuda Bauer, the director of research at Yad Vashem. The documents will be distributed among Yad Vashem, the Holocaust museum in Washington and the Center for Jewish Documentation in Paris.