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Musee Internationale de la Croix-Rouge et du Croissant Rouge (International Museum of The Red Cross and Red Crescent) — A Poignant Walk Back In Time

Posted by on 8 April 2020

I am losing count of the number of days that KL has been under RMO/MCO (Restricted Movement Order/Movement Control Order). As one wise guy cracked, the only official days of the week now are Yesterday, Today, and Tomorrow.

One good thing about the lockdown is how I’ve managed to unearth some old pics buried somewhere in my archives, such as these pics that I took in April 2011 but never published before.

This is the International Museum of the Red Cross and Red Crescent in Geneva, Switzerland. I did not exactly plan to visit it that day as I had my sights on the United Nations (UN). Unfortunately, the UN tour apparently was very strict in the sense that. once you’re in, you can’t go out until the entire tour is over. I had a flight to catch and I calculated that I would not have enough time for the tour AND catching my flight. And that was how I ended up walking a few blocks away into this museum.

Entrance of the museum
A sculpture depicting prisoners of war

When I was in high school, I was part of what was called the Red Cross Youth. We learned how to administer first aid and were always on standby during school sporting events and such. Of course, we had to learn a bit of the history, namely, the beginnings of the Red Cross and Red Crescent. And I’ve never forgotten Jean-Henri Dunant‘s name even though the details remain blurry now.

Jean-Henri Dunant’s portrait is in the middle

The museum was dark and cold, as most museums are kept in order to preserve artifacts better, and I remember how solemn it all felt. It was a walk back in time, a remembrance of people who’ve given up their lives in war and other people who strove to improve the treatment of prisoners of war and civilians during war.

First aid kit?
Russian Red Cross artifacts
Archives of prisoners of war

The most poignant artifact I’ve seen that day is probably this postcard from a prisoner of war to some named Marguerite. It’s in French and my photo is, sadly, quite shaky so some of the words are hard to make out. But it starts with

“My little Marguerite,

I have written you a few days ago and I was very surprised not to have received any response. It would be very kind if you could write me a small note. That would make me very happy.”

Postcard from a prisoner of war

These were real people who loved and cried and felt pain just like us. Did she ever write him back? Did he get out alive? Did they find each other?

Black and white war footage were part of the exhibit

The International Museum of the Red Cross and Red Crescent is located at Avenue de la Paix 17, 1202 Genève, Switzerland but is temporarily closed, probably due to COVID-19.

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