Station: [11] International involvement

And off we go, merrily into the next round – before things get serious again. To the tune of “Non, non rien n’a changé” – a song by the “Young Family” Youth Red Cross group from Nettersheim near the town of Euskirchen. It’s from 1974. 

“No, no, nothing has changed”, they sing. Because landmines are still being laid, children and adults are still losing arms and legs when they step on the hidden mines. In Afghanistan, for example, the Red Cross was operating seven orthopaedic centres, which, among other things, made prosthetic limbs for landmine victims. 

Here in the showcase, where the “Young Family” single is on display, you can see a hand-made scale model showing a wheelchair, a prosthetic limb and crutches. The vice-president of the Nordrhein association of the German Red Cross, Christiane Schlieper, brought it back from a trip to Cambodia, where she had visited a Red Cross centre for land-mine victims. One of those affected had made the model himself. 

At the far end of the room, there’s a large poster of a ship. The hospital ship “Helgoland” is an example of the international involvement of the German Red Cross. In 1966, the organisation became the ship’s sponsor. It set sail for Vietnam, into the war zone. For more than five years, the ship, which provided both surgery and other medical care, lay at anchor, first in Saigon and later in Da Nang, one of the main theatres of war. Those in receipt of medical care were mainly civilians. The nurses came from the various mother houses of the Red Cross nursing organisations, called “Schwesternschaften” – sisterhoods. Many were from the one based in Bonn. 

“The suffering, and the terrible wounds, often took us all to the very edge, physically and psychologically”, 

commented Red Cross nurse Ite Totzki, thinking back to that time. 

Another fascinating story is the tale of a ship called the “Flora”. The DRK had it equipped for an overseas mission and furnished with a sick bay and a water purification system. If your German is up to it, you can read a report in the showcase.


Fotos: © Dagmar Trüpschuch