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Geneva: the ICRC and the OSS allegations

05-03-1997 News Release 97/08

Following allegations that appeared in the press last summer, calling into question the actions of some of its delegates during the Second World War, the ICRC resolved to shed full light on that period in its history. The working group set up for the purpose has just completed another stage in its investigation, and its conclusions are summarized in a document released to the press on 3 March. The allegations were based on a number of reports by agents of the US Office of Strategic Services (OSS), the predecessor of today's CIA, and suggested that ICRC delegates had been involved in activities that were inconsistent with the organization's humanitarian mandate.

Having made a thorough search of its archives and those of the Swiss Confederation, the ICRC can now firmly state that, among the 49 individuals whose names are quoted in the OSS documents, only 18 worked for the organization, and only three of those appear to have committed reprehensible acts. The first was involved in illicit currency dealings, while the other two were found guilty of espionage, apparently motivated by personal gain. In the first case only were the dealings conducted while the person was in the service of the ICRC; the affair ended with his resignation following an internal investigation. In the other two cases, the activities in question took place either before or after the individuals concerned were employed by the ICRC. All the other allegations stemmed from obvious misunderstanding of the ICRC's mandate and working procedures.

In view of the facts that have now come to light, it appears evident that during the Second World W ar only a small number of individuals fell prey to influences contrary to the humanitarian ideal. The report on the three cases is available from the ICRC on request.