IRRC No. 24

The early years of the Red Cross

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The Russians say that one must not go to Tula with a samovar, because it is there that samovars are made. The English avoid taking coals to Newcastle. In the same way, the Dutch would not go to Gouda with a clay pipe. To speak about the Red Cross before an assembly such as this, composed of loyal friends of the International Committee and distinguished servants of the institution, is rather like flying in the face of the wise counsel of so many nations. In such tricky circumstances, I have only one recourse and that is to take refuge in a past as distant as possible. Fortunately, the Centenary which we are celebrating today invites me to do just that. It was in fact a century and a day ago that five gentlemen, as unlike each other as it is possible to be, met together for the first time.

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