From Dissident to Recognised Belligerent? The Free French and the Red Cross Movement, 1940 –1943

Laure Humbert, Marie-Luce Desgrandchamps

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Abstract

This article explores how the Free French, who were obsessed with establishing legitimacy and obtaining resources on the international scene, sought to create links with the Red Cross Movement. First, it highlights the significance attached to affiliation with the Red Cross by a political committee-in-exile operating outside the traditional diplomatic framework. Although de Gaulle was relatively successful in this quest and obtained a partial diplomatic recognition within the Red Cross apparatus in 1943, this only extended to the transmission of information about PoWs. Second, it expands and deepens the history of the Red Cross movement by illustrating the complexity of Red Cross philanthropy and the plurality of its transnational networks on the ground. In the Free French ‘archipelago’, local Red Cross structures —often led by women— were complicated by their own unique dynamics, entangled both in the geopolitics of the time and the local politics of their respective spaces.
Original languageEnglish
JournalFrench History
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 23 May 2023

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