1914-1918 online: international encyclopedia of the First World War
National Red Cross societies played a very important role in the First World War. They supported armies’ medical services, brought relief to prisoners of war and sometimes organized their repatriation, and helped the civilian populations. Despite the universal ideal of an independent, neutral, and impartial Red Cross Movement, the national societies were subordinated to their respective governments and integrated into the war effort, used a tool for the mobilization of minds as well as for the promotion of their countries abroad. Women were an important component of these societies, but despite their commitment, they did not accede to leading positions.