Previous Index Next

 

VOLUNTARY WAR RELIEF   195

both approbation and criticism which belong rightly to the medical corps.

The fundamental idea of the Red Cross is the provision, under the safe conduct of a recognized flag, of care for combatants put out of action, either by wounds, sickness, or imprisonment; and the term "Red Cross" is only used properly when applied to such service. It is true that this service may assume a thousand different forms, but its ultimate objective must be the "combatant-putout-of-action," either temporarily or permanently. It is the condition of the recipient, and not the type of service or the class of article provided which determines whether they come under the category of "Red Cross."

It is true that in time of peace, and outside the zone of war, Red Cross Societies may turn their attention to the alleviation of the ills of civilian life, such as the campaign against tuberculosis or rescue work in emergencies caused by fire or flood; but within the zone of war the Red Cross owes its immunity to attack solely to its consecration to the service of the man-out-of-action; and the strength of the hold of the Red Cross ideal upon the public mind may be gauged by the horror which Germany's deliberate disregard of its significance has caused.

The Belgian Red Cross, with that fidelity to compact which has characterized Belgium throughout the war, was ordered by the German General von Bissing to use its funds and organization for certain duties connected with the supervision of prostitutes. Rather than use the sacred symbol for any unworthy purpose, the Belgian Red Cross on March 26th, 1916, gave up its charter and disbanded—von Bissing appropriating its funds. Subsequently a new Society arose—" The Belgian Red Cross Behind the Lines, "—to which the Canadian Red Cross has had the opportunity of contributing both money and supplies.

But we are well aware that only a very small section of the public understands or cares about the proper legal sphere of Red Cross work. To the average person,


Previous Index Next