Since the Geneva Convention of 1929 only covered prisoners of war, the Third-Reich authorities consistently denied the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) access to its concentration camps. This changed only toward the end of the war, when the German authorities realized that they could no longer maintain the camps due to Germany’s collapsing infrastructure. At that point, they allowed representatives of the Red Cross to enter the camps in order to organize and supervise relief efforts for the inmates, and prepare handing over the camps to Allied forces.
ICRC representatives managed to get access to the Auschwitz Main Camp in 1944, but only in order to contact British PoWs held in that camp. They were not allowed to enter the Birkenau Camp, where exterminations are said to have been going on at that time. Evidently, they were unable to get confirmation for extermination claims.
The ICRC was also allowed to inspect the Theresienstadt Ghetto, and its report about that Jewish town was rather favorable. This causes ire and critique to this day from the orthodoxy, claiming that the ICRC got bamboozled by an SS propaganda show.
In the ICRC’s detailed report about the fate of the Jews in Hungary after the German occupation of that country in early 1944, they mysteriously omitted any mention of the mass deportations taking place between May and July of that year. This has caused some to doubt the veracity of these events, although there is plenty of original wartime documentation substantiating that it happened.
After the war, the ICRC published a massive three-volume report on its activities during the war, with a main focus on victims of German persecutions. As has to be expected for a report written during an atmosphere of general post-war anti-German hysteria, the report contains general remarks about an alleged German policy of extermination toward the Jews. However, none of the specific activities the ICRC engaged in revealed any specifics about an ongoing extermination program. The 1,600 pages of the ICRC’s report never hint at any homicidal gas chambers.
In their report on the liberation of the Dachau Camp by U.S. troops, the ICRC omitted the fact that the Americans executed all German guards and camp officials. That German victims of mass atrocities didn’t seem to matter much to the ICRC can also be gleaned from the fact that no ICRC report ever addressed the mass atrocities committed against German civilians in Eastern and Central Europe at war’s end or afterwards. Some twelve million Germans were ethnically cleansed from these regions, and more than two million of them died in the process. Yet the ICRC never addressed this with a single word. The same is true with all the looting, mass arrests, mass rape, mass deportations, continued trade blockade, intentional starvation policies and industrial plundering going on after the war until 1948. The ICRC turned a blind eye to it all.
The ICRC got involved, however, in tracing the victims of National-Socialist persecution by managing the International Tracing Service set up in central West Germany after the war’s end – because the Allied victorious powers set it up that way. There was no interest in tracing the millions upon millions of German victims of Allied bombings, ethnic cleansing, automatic arrests, mass deportations, postwar starvation policies etc.
The ICRC claims to have been a neutral organization. However, their consistent ignoring of atrocities committed against German civilians proves this to be a myth. On the other hand, their consistent failure to find confirmation for any extermination policy carried out in German wartime camps reveals another myth.