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Donate Blood - Save Lives! Blood Donation as a Practice of Socialist Humanitarianism in the Czechoslovak and Polish Red Cross

Referentin: Maren Hachmeister
12.06.2024 - 11:30 Uhr
University of Manchester, United Kingdom

Beschreibung der Veranstaltung

Blood donation is one of the traditional tasks of the national Red Cross societies. It is typically surrounded by imagery of blood, nation and humanity, which mobilize people for voluntary blood donation. This also applied to the socialist Red Cross societies in the People’s Republic of Poland and in Czechoslovakia, where mass mobilization of blood donors and socialist ideology intertwined throughout the second half of the 20th century. Health care in both countries depended heavily on blood donations organized by the Red Cross at the time. Both organizations used this to legitimize themselves within the state socialist system. For the states, on the other hand, a functional Red Cross society demonstrated the modernity and progressiveness of socialism–not least on the international stages of the humanitarian movement. This paper argues that blood donation is therefore a good lens through which we can understand how (supposedly apolitical) Red Cross societies helped to stabilize socialist rule. A closer look at the period after the Prague Spring in Czechoslovakia (in the 1970s) and the period of martial law in Poland (1981-1983) will show that this in turn created the potential for their members to destabilize socialist rule. The paper will draw on archival material from state archives in Warsaw, Krakow, Prague and Pilsen.

Der Vortrag ist Teil der Konferenz "Socialist Humanitarianism in the Long Twentieth Century".

Nurses and blood collection from honorary blood donors

1960, sign. 3/39/0/-/5826-3, Narodowe Archiwum Cyfrowe (NAC)