In celebration of the 150th anniversary of the First Geneva Convention and the centenary of the Luxembourg Red Cross, the Luxembourg City History Museum has showcasted the colourful history of the world’s largest aid organisation.

Today’s Luxembourg society cannot be imagined without the Red Cross. At an international scale, Red Cross and Red Crescent societies in 189 nations form the largest humanitarian network, which at the same time ranks among the world’s best known “brands”.

Right from the start, the exhibition raised questions: Why should we help? Are we ready to help, or do we, calloused by the information conveyed through the media, accept the suffering of our fellow human beings?

Subsequently, the historical stages of the Red Cross’ foundation are portrayed: In 1859, Geneva businessman and later Nobel Peace Prize winner Henry Dunant (1828-1910) witnessed the atrocities of the battle of Solferino, in which tens of thousands of soldiers perished and many more fell ill due to a lack of medical care. Under the slogan “Tutti fratelli” (All brothers), Dunant organised treatment for the wounded – on both sides of the battlefield. He subsequently campaigned for his pioneering concept of providing neutral and impartial aid in times of war. Together with a few like-minded Geneva citizens, he founded the “International Committee of the Red Cross”. In 1864, twelve nations signed the Geneva Convention, which laid down the statutes of the Red Cross movement.

In August 1914, shortly after the outbreak of the First World War, members of the Luxembourg liberal classes responded to the call by Grand Duchess Marie-Adélaïde to found a Red Cross society. The inter-war period saw their activities extend into the civilian area, improving sanitation and health care, fighting diseases and implementing infant care measures.

Following the annexation of the Grand Duchy in the Second World War, the Luxembourg organisation was forcibly incorporated into the German Red Cross. Against this backdrop, the focus is on the international history of the Red Cross, which – despite providing active assistance on various fronts – did not emphatically champion the cause of detainees in Nazi concentration camps. The exhibition furthermore draws attention to the various aspects of the neutrality and impartiality principles espoused by the aid organisation.

After the new start in 1945, the Luxembourg Red Cross gradually expanded its fields of activity. An insight into the wide range of activities is provided by interviews with personnel and volunteers. In view of the present changing global environment, today the Red Cross faces new challenges once again.

The last theme of the exhibition has cast a humorous light on the symbol of the Red Cross, known throughout the world, and its wide range of uses in all kinds of areas of life.


16 May > 29 March 2015