Close this search box.





Voluntary service



The History of the International Red Cross/Red Crescent Movement

The story of Red Cross began in June 24th 1859, in the town of Solferino, little place in the north of Italy. There was a battle for independence, after which the Austrians were banished from the north Italy. The battle lasted for 15 hours and resulted in 40 000 wounded, out of which many died.

The medical services were far away from this place, but there was a young salesman from Geneva, Henry Dunant. Dunant was 31 years old and this little place was only a short stop to the place where he was going for the business reasons. When he saw this horrible scene, he wanted to provide relief assistance to all wounded. He was assisted by few doctors who were there, as well as the local population, with scarce aid and equipment. Dunant’s idea was to spontaneously recruit volunteers, i.e. civil population, who were, at first, unwilling to help.

With the famous line „Tutti fratelli” – „We are all brothers”, Henry Dunant succeeded to move and encourage population of Solferino to help. With joint efforts, they took wounded away from the battle field, back to their homes and churches where they were medically assisted.

For three days and night, Henry Dunant, together with the volunteers, took care of wounded, even though they didn’t have the proper equipment for providing help.

After the experience with Solferino, Henry Dunant decided to establish the international society for support, which would be based on the Agreement, and which would be legally binding for the states. Dunant couldn’t stop thinking about the horrors that happened in Solferino, so three years after this event, he wrote a book called „A Memory of Solferino“.In addition to penning a vivid description of his experiences in Solferino he explicitly advocated the formation of national voluntary relief organizations to help nurse wounded soldiers in the case of war. In addition, he called for the development of international treaties to guarantee the protection of neutral medics and field hospitals for soldiers wounded on the battlefield.



Battle at Solferino Henry Dunant