German Red Cross Armband

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We here at see a lot of military surplus items come and go. It is just part of the job. However, today we’re going to discuss what is perhaps one of my favorite items the store has ever seen.  The general history that can be associated with such an item makes it – in my opinion – a really cool buy.

Just as we civilians have Emergency Medical Technicians (EMTs) and paramedics to provide first aid and trauma care during dire situations, the military has combat medics trained to provide medical support on the battlefield. These medics are trained military personnel and are protected as noncombatants under the Geneva Convention. That means firing at one is considered a war crime. Historically, combat medics have worn red crosses on a white background to signify their status as medics/noncombatants., in keeping with our tradition of storied military surplus, is proud to offer the German Red Cross armband. These unissued armbands come to us all the way from Langerfeld in Wuppertal, Germany and were produced during the late 1970s and early 1980s.

Secure your piece of German military history today for only $4.95!

The German Red Cross armband is an unissued, military surplus item. The armband is a long strip of white cotton with an embroidered red cross and measures approximately 23-inches long by 4.5-inches wide. Each armband is stamped on the reverse with the manufacturers name (RH signifies Rudolf Homberg GmbH, a German textile manufacturer), the model number and the production date (e.g. 1/79) – serving to give your armband a point of origin.

The armband can be secured very easily using a safety pin or button, just as they were in times of service. They are an ideal choice for:

- Collections

- Reenactments

- Halloween costumes

- Stage and theater production

- Movie production

Combat Medics, the Geneva Convention and the Red Cross

Combat medics exist to provide first aid and trauma care to soldiers fighting on the frontlines. It is believed that military personnel designated specifically for medicine date back to Napoleon’s Grande Armée, French for great army, and Dominique Jean Larrey – credited for his contributions to battlefield medicine.

You may have guessed that being a combat medic can be a dangerous job for reasons that are quite obvious. As such, the First Geneva Convention in 1864 provided protection for combat medics and other personnel, making it both a direct violation of the treaty as well as a war crime to knowingly fire at them. Additionally, it established the symbol of a red cross on a white background as the official emblem for medical personnel and those protected under the terms of the treaty. This was undeniably due to the Geneva Convention’s connection to the International Committee of the Red Cross, a humanitarian organization based in Geneva, Switzerland whose mission is to “protect the lives and dignity of victims of war and internal violence and to provide them with assistance."

Recently, many militaries have discontinued the use of the Red Cross symbol for their combat medics and medical personnel. Many modern conflicts are fought with armies consisting of insurgents who disregard the Geneva Convention and view the symbol as more of a target. Today, many combat medics do not wear any visible markings and are generally indistinguishable from ordinary troops. Regardless, the symbol of the Red Cross will forever live on.

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