Pavel E. Ratmanov1,
Vsevolod Y. Bashkuev2
1FSBEI НЕ “Far-East State Medical University” МОН Russia
35 Muravyeva-Amurskogo St., Khabarovsk 680000, Russia
2The Institute for Mongolian, Buddhist and Tibetan Studies of the Siberian Branch of the Russian Academy of Sciences
6 Sakhyanovoy St., Ulan-Ude 670047, Russia
This article examines the activities of the foreign representative offices of the Soviet Red Cross in the 1920s and 1930s in the context of the international policy of both the People’s Commissariat of Health (PCH) of the RSFSR, and the Soviet state as a whole. Having initially taken the form of humanitarian work relating to famine relief and recovery in the RSFSR, the international activities of the Russian Red Cross Society (RRCS) soon took on additional unstated but politically important aspects. The RRCS in the 1920s and 1930s was not a structural division of the RSFSR PCH, but a separate institution with its own budget. The foreign missions of the RRCS and the PCH remained independent of each other until 1929 when they were merged following a change in Soviet government policy. In general, the foreign missions of the Soviet Red Cross in this period were not just a tool in the international activities of the RSFSR PCH, but had particular functions, which changed over time. This study draws on materials from the State Archives of the Russian Federation (on the Council of People’s Commissars of the USSR, the Alliance of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies of the USSR, the Central Committee of the RRCS, and the All-Union Bureau of Foreign Health Information of the RSFSR PCH).
Keywords: history of medicine, history of healthcare, international relations in healthcare and medicine, Soviet Red Cross, Russian Red Cross Society*This research is funded by the Russian Science Foundation, as part of project no. 19-18-00031, “The ‘soft power’ of Soviet medicine: the transfer of knowledge, technology and ideologies in the international relations of the People’s Commissariat of Health of the RSFSR and USSR (1921–1947)”.