With war clouds gathering, hard times lay ahead
for the League of Red Cross Societies. National Societies were ready to go
on a war footing. What was happening to Red Cross societies in totalitarian
In November 1938, American Red Cross President Norman Davis, in Washington,
addressed a message to the institution's executive council : "The
distressing situation of Jewish and other homeless refugees in Europe is of
a character and magnitude which place its solution beyond the juridiction or
facilities of the Red Cross".
On September 1, 1939, German troops invaded Poland. Three days later, the
French and British governments declared war on Germany. In 1941, Davis stood
by a piano as composer Irving Berlin offered the Red Cross a song calling
for "Angels of mercy" -- American nurses -- to "march where darkness shuts
out the lights".
In World War Two, an estimated 50 million people, mostly civilans, were
killed. Under the jurisdiction of Davis, who died in office, the League's
role became more crucial than ever before, while ensuring that its remained
universal, and with the operation of National Societies of both the Allied
and the Axis powers.
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