International Red Rescue: an integrated but atypical rescue method

International Red Rescue was founded in late 1922 in Moscow at the Fourth World Congress of the Communist International, with the precise aim of creating an organisation of permanent rescue on a juridical, political, material and moral basis for victims of the antifascist struggle, the class struggle and white terror.

Its aims were to extend internationally to the activities of similar organisations that had gradually formed in several countries, while contributing to the training of simple support groups for political prisoners and the victims of fascism in various places in Europe.

The largest branch of International Red Rescue, an organisation that was able to offer a 360° rescue service in specific emergency situations, was located in Moscow, where archives still contain documentation recording events involving this body.

International Red Rescuewasnot affiliated to any party and was organised into national sections divided into local committees. Although the organisational structure and the directors had to be independent of the Communist International and the communist parties, it was these very organisations that linked them up in such a way as to allow the control of national sections.

Within International Red Rescue the Soviet section exercised an obvious guiding role. In late 1937 International Red Rescue fell victim to Stalin’s repression and started to lose members up until the Molotov-von Ribbentrop pact and the start of the Second World War. The Italian section however, along with a few others, continued to exist throughout the war.

One of the most important interventions was in 1934 with the Asturias Offensive. During the workers’ protest and right through the Spanish Civil War, International Red Rescuesuccessfullyorganisedintensive support activities for prisoners of war, setting up several amnesty campaigns and supporting a series of essential initiatives: hospital construction, makeshift shelters for rebel militias, the building of nurseries, schools, orphanages, blood banks, dental hygiene campaigns and many more.

International Red Rescuewas particularly active in other places worthy of note like in South America and in the Netherlands. However Mexico and Cuba had the most active branches in this atypical but very important form of international rescue.

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