What of the Red Cross? Why didn't they report the horrible conditions in the camps? The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) as you could expect had numerous problems during the holocaust/World War II period. One was the Office of Strategic Services (OSS) February 4 1944 document that the Organization had been infiltrated by German agents or associates of German agents who were using the Red Cross as a cover to transmit military information. Another Document dated January 11 of the same year said "A series of observations commenced by the French and continued by this organisation indicate that the ICRC is probably controlled by the German Intelligence Service. The German delegate to the ICRC in Geneva is known to be a German agent and the head of the ICRC to be German controlled. `Enough is known to warrant the assumption that any delegate of the ICRC should be considered a potential if not actual German agent." A third document said that Red Cross pouches were used to smuggle wealth from to Turkey and then to Switzerland (1 ).
It is unclear that if it was an accident or a friendly "German agent" that allowed Nazi war criminal Adolph Eichmann to escape to Argentina. Eichmann had forged ICRC documents when he was caught (2 ).
Putting all this aside, the Nazi regime felt the IRC was still too credible to allow the access to them camps. During World War II the ICRC was unsuccessfully sought complete access to Jewish concentration camps. They drew up six names of prospective ICRC delegates and asked the German government to choose which it would find acceptable for camp visits. The German government found all six unacceptable(3 ).
The Red Crosses usual area, the care of POW in war time was in jeopardy in World War II. By the end of 1943 Hitler planned to denounce the Geneva convention. This would have left millions of captured allied prisoners at the mercy of the Nazi Regime. The president of the International Red Cross Carl Burkhardt intervened and Hitler backed down. It should also be said that the Red Cross only had agreements to give aid to allies prisoners. Not civilians under Hitler's control (4 ).
The Red Cross admitted decades after the hostilities ended it ignored the persecution of the Jews during the holocaust. , director of archives for the Red Cross George Willemin said Very clearly, the ICRC's activities with regard to the Holocaust are sensed as a moral failure,". Part of the reason was the Red Cross feared it would lose access to POW's from the Axis powers(5 ).
Even with this the reports were coming in of mass killing and persecution of the Jews. In an attempt to quell this the Nazi regime. They so they turned the camp Theresienstadt into a model town temporarily and invited the Red Cross to inspect it and shot a movie of the town. It should be noted that this was one of the camps that did not gas the Jews (6 ).