The ICRC's Only Weapon: Love

In 1939 World War II broke out. Dr. Junod was conscripted to serve as a medical officer with the Swiss Army. Soon thereafter, however, in response to a request from the ICRC, he was once again made a delegate. This assignment was not for just one country. It ultimately took him throughout Europe to France, England, Belgium, Germany and Sweden and across the Balkan Mountains to Greece and Turkey.

During the war transport was disrupted, and people could not travel freely. Dr. Junod was undeterred. He repeatedly crossed national borders and worked to improve the conditions in prison camps throughout Europe. He reasoned with those running the camps saying that if prisoners were mistreated, their compatriots would be treated even more harshly when they were captured.

A rumor that German parachutists had been executed after being captured by the French Army reached the German government. Believing it to be true, the Germans decided to retaliate and kill 10 French prisoners for every German prisoner that was killed. If that threat were carried out, it would set off a chain of reprisals.

Dr. Junod had only 12 days in which to persuade the Germans to reverse their decision. However, at that time the location of the French government, which had negotiated an armistice with Germany, was unknown. After 11 days, just before time ran out, Dr. Junod, who had entered France from Berlin via Switzerland, succeeded in visiting the headquarters of the French government, which were then in Bordeaux.

After receiving permission from the French government to visit the German prisoners, Dr. Junod went to see them immediately and learned that the rumor that German parachutists had been executed was groundless. He reported this to the German government just in time to prevent retaliation against French prisoners. A few days later, when asked about his almost superhuman ability to take action, Dr. Junod replied without hesitation, "Believing in people and loving people - these are the only weapons that can save people." No doubt many lives were saved through Dr. Junod's efforts during World War II.

Dr. Junod also conducted repeated negotiations to ensure the safe passage of Red Cross ships through the waters between Genoa and Lisbon, which were being blockaded and counter-blockaded by the navies of Germany and England. As a result, food, packages, medicines and other relief supplies that had been sent from countries around the world could be delivered to prisoners.

Dr. Junod also worked with the Swedish Red Cross to carry out a large-scale relief effort to aid starving Greeks. His belief in the spirit of compassion that our consciences tell us to follow made it possible for Dr. Junod to ensure safe passage for the ships carrying supplies and to create a system whereby sick children in Greece were hospitalized in Cairo.

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