German Red Cross
The German Red Cross or the DRK, is the national Red Cross Society in Germany.

With over 4.5 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. For instance, it is the biggest operator of emergency medical services in Germany, it runs nursing homes and offers social services for teenagers and families. It also spends millions on humanitarian aid projects in the third world.

Voluntary societies of the German Red Cross

The majority of voluntary Red Cross members are part of the five voluntary societies of the German Red Cross.
  • Bereitschaften (medical service units, about 160,000 members)
  • Bergwacht (mountain rescue service)
  • Wasserwacht
    The Wasserwacht is a German lifeguard service. It is one of the five voluntary societies of the German Red Cross. The Wasserwacht is a non-profit organization made up of on volunteers.- Tasks :The main task of the Wasserwacht is the prevention of drowning...

     (lifeguard service, about 130,000 members)
  • Sozialarbeit (welfare work)
  • Jugendrotkreuz (Red Cross Youth)


Instituted in 1864 by Dr. Aaron Silverman of the Charité
The Charité - Universitätsmedizin Berlin is the medical school for both the Humboldt University and the Free University of Berlin. After the merger with their fourth campus in 2003, the Charité is one of the largest university hospitals in Europe....

 hospital of Berlin, the German Red Cross was a voluntary civil assistance organization that was officially acknowledged by the Geneva Convention in 1929.

General Kurt W. von Pfuel was the Chairman of the Central Committee of the German National Red Cross during the Great War
World War I
World War I , which was predominantly called the World War or the Great War from its occurrence until 1939, and the First World War or World War I thereafter, was a major war centred in Europe that began on 28 July 1914 and lasted until 11 November 1918...

Following Hitler's takeover of the government in Germany
Nazi Germany
Nazi Germany , also known as the Third Reich , but officially called German Reich from 1933 to 1943 and Greater German Reich from 26 June 1943 onward, is the name commonly used to refer to the state of Germany from 1933 to 1945, when it was a totalitarian dictatorship ruled by...

 in 1933, the National Socialist Party moved to control the Red Cross as well. Thus the DRK became a legally recognized organization of the NSDAP in December 1937. Finally, at the end of 1938 the German Red Cross officially came under the control of the Nazi Party under the Ministry of the Interior's Social Welfare Organization, becoming de facto a Nazi entity.

After Nazi Germany's defeat in World War II
Aftermath of World War II
After World War II a new era of tensions emerged based on opposing ideologies, mutual distrust between nations, and a nuclear arms race. This emerged into an environment dominated by a international balance of power that had changed significantly from the status quo before the war...

, the Allied Military Government
Allied Occupation Zones in Germany
The Allied powers who defeated Nazi Germany in World War II divided the country west of the Oder-Neisse line into four occupation zones for administrative purposes during 1945–49. In the closing weeks of fighting in Europe, US forces had pushed beyond the previously agreed boundaries for the...

 issued a special law outlawing the Nazi party and all of its branches. Known as "Law number five", this Denazification
Denazification was an Allied initiative to rid German and Austrian society, culture, press, economy, judiciary, and politics of any remnants of the National Socialist ideology. It was carried out specifically by removing those involved from positions of influence and by disbanding or rendering...

 decree disbanded the DRK, like all organizations linked to the Nazi Party. Social welfare organizations, including the German Red Cross, had to be established anew during the postwar reconstruction of both West Germany
West Germany
West Germany is the common English, but not official, name for the Federal Republic of Germany or FRG in the period between its creation in May 1949 to German reunification on 3 October 1990....

 and the DDR.

The German Red Cross in the Federal Republic was recognized by the International Committee of the Red Cross
International Committee of the Red Cross
The International Committee of the Red Cross is a private humanitarian institution based in Geneva, Switzerland. States parties to the four Geneva Conventions of 1949 and their Additional Protocols of 1977 and 2005, have given the ICRC a mandate to protect the victims of international and...

 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 DDR Red Cross issued a magazine named Deutsches Rotes Kreuz (German red Cross). Albert Schweitzer
Albert Schweitzer
Albert Schweitzer OM was a German theologian, organist, philosopher, physician, and medical missionary. He was born in Kaysersberg in the province of Alsace-Lorraine, at that time part of the German Empire...

 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.

Presidents of the German Red Cross

During the First World War General Kurt W. von Pfuel was the Chairman of the Central Committee of the German National Red Cross. Since 1921 the society has had the following presidents:
  • 1921–1933: Joachim von Winterfeldt-Menkin
  • 1933–1945: Carl-Eduard Herzog von Sachsen-Coburg und Gotha
  • 1950–1952: Otto Gessler
    Otto Gessler
    Otto Karl Gessler was a German politician during the Weimar Republic. From 1910 until 1914, he was mayor of Regensburg and from 1913 to 1919 mayor of Nuremberg. He served in Weimar cabinets from 1919 until 1928, usually as Minister of Defence.-Biography:Gessler was born in Ludwigsburg in the...

  • 1952–1961: Heinrich Weitz (FRG)
  • 1961–1967: Hans Ritter von Lex
    Hans Ritter von Lex
    Hans Ritter von Lex was a German political figure and the President of the German Red Cross from 1961 to 1967. He was born Hans Lex on October 27, 1893 in Rosenheim, Upper Bavaria, Germany. He died February 26, 1970 in Munich, Germany.- Biography :...

  • 1967–1982: Walter Bargatzky (FRG)
  • 1982–1994: Botho Prinz zu Sayn-Wittgenstein-Hohenstein
    Botho Prinz zu Sayn-Wittgenstein-Hohenstein
    Botho Prinz zu Sayn-Wittgenstein-Hohenstein was a German politician. He was a member of the Christian Democratic Union....

  • 1994–2003: Knut Ipsen
  • 2003–: Rudolf Seiters
    Rudolf Seiters
    Rudolf Seiters is a German politician of the CDU party.From 1989-1991, he was Federal Minister for Special Affairs and the Head of the Office of the German Chancellery. From 1991-1993, he was the Minister of the Interior. From 1998-2002, he was the Vice President of the German Bundestag, or...

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