Red Cross Workers Were Suspected Of Being German Spies In Second World War

In his new book, James Crossland writes about the relations between Britain and the  International Committee of the Red Cross during the Second World War, underlining the fact that the Central Intelligence Agency suspected workers in north Africa of working as undercover German spies.

Crossland became interested in the subject after studying an OSS report as part of his doctorate studies, which was declassified in the 1990s and read about some Whitehall officials, who believed that the International Committee of the Red Cross or many of its members were sympathizers of the Nazi party, the Third Sector reports.

According to James Crossland, Britain  “had come to the conclusion by 1942 that the ICRC was a very meddlesome organisation, primarily because the ICRC wanted to ship relief in unrealistically large quantities into Europe, which the British of course were hesitant to do because they knew the supplies would be taken by the Germans”.

He also said that American soldiers were asked not to interact with the International Committee of the Red Cross and if they did, they were expected to be extremely limited in how they interacted. However, he said, according to the OSS report, of 49 suspected workers, only two of them seemed to had had an unusual behavior and anyway, one of these two was only a thief and not a spy. The other one had tried to put together some kind of a spy circle for the Axis alliance in Algiers, however, according to all sources, the spy circle was not a big deal at all.

Author James Crossland said that it wasn’t the first or the last time it happened and that the  International Committee of the Red Cross has many times been the subject of several such conflicts ever since it was founded, 150 years ago.  He insisted that after all this time, the International Committee of the Red Cross deals with this situation the same way every time and that is by recruiting the best people and ask them to remain neutral no matter what happens and that that is the most important thing when working for the Committee.

The author also said that all of these accusations, revealed by the new OSS report turned out to be false, since they were not based on any true premises. The International Committee of the Red Cross published a response after the papers were made public, denying everything and saying that ICRC was an allied organisation.


Ian Harvey

Ian Harvey is one of the authors writing for WAR HISTORY ONLINE