RED CROSS Day History


On this day in 1863, Henry Dunant founded the Red Cross, which would go onto receive the Nobel Peace Prize three times.

During the Battle of Solferino in the Franco-Austrian war, Swiss businessman Dunant was shocked to witness tens of thousands dead or wounded left on the field after just one day of fighting.

After this experience, on 17 February 1863, he decided to form the International Committee of the Red Cross in Geneva Switzerland with four other Swiss businessmen to take care of casualties and prisoners of war. In the following year, the first Geneva Convention was adopted, “for the Amelioration of the Condition of the Wounded and Sick in Armed Forces in the Field.”

The First World War was an enormous challenge for the organisation. At the outbreak of the war in 1914 medical staff from all over the world gathered to take care of the many wounded. One of them was the young Ernest Hemingway (awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature 1954), employed as an ambulance driver on the Austrian-Italian front. The experience later inspired him to write the novel ‘Farewell to Arms’.


Henry Dunant was awarded the first ever Nobel Peace Prize in 1901 for his humanitarian work.

The organization he founded received the prize three times.

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