Station: [12] World-wide operations

The nuclear reactor disaster in Chernobyl, large numbers of East German citizens taking refuge at the West German embassy in Prague – it would be hard to imagine the 1980s without those earth-shattering events. 

Chernobyl: following the 1986 disaster at the nuclear power plant in Chernobyl, many people in Ukraine remained gravely ill and had become uprooted socially. The Red Cross visited those affected with portable laboratories. For a decade, the Youth Red Cross North Rhine invited children and young people from the Chernobyl region to spend their holidays at the organisation’s vacation retreat in Bad Münstereifel. 

Prague: in 1989, thousands of East Germans headed for the West. Many attempted to reach the Federal Republic by way of the West German embassy in Prague. The West German Red Cross looked after the refugees, providing food and accommodation and ensuring they had sanitation and medical facilities. 

Here, on the wall to your right, you can see dairy entries by a Red Cross worker called Angelika Schmitz. Recorded in detail, day after day, hour after hour. It’s the only way we know what the refugees had for lunch and dinner on a day as crucial as September the 30th. The day when the then foreign minister Hans-Dietrich Genscher announced: 

“We have come to you to let you know that your departure has today...“

Lunch was pea soup and a yoghurt. Dinner was sausages and bread. 

The close links between Red Cross members and their organisation are illustrated by the photographs and reminiscences on display in the showcases – which were part of the estates of some Red Cross workers. You’ll discover that Christel Rang used to weave table runners with Red Cross motifs in her free time ...

… and that a shoemaker called Johann Milden was rarely in his workshop, because he always had another errand to run for the Red Cross.


Foto 1: © Rotkreuz Museum
Foto 2: © Dagmar Trüpschuch