Duty leads to right, right leads to duty. Dutch Red Cross, nursing and war 1870–1918

  • Leo van Bergen
Part of the Neuere Medizin- und Wissenschaftsgeschichte book series (NMW, volume 20)


As a consequence of conscription in the second half of the nineteenth century the Dutch army began to exist of “sons of our home” instead of mercenaries. This led to a cry for better medical care to which the military and political authorities responded by calling into being a Dutch Red Cross organization. The home front would be satisfied and being a voluntary organization, military budgets would stay intact. However this was criticized in two ways. Radical nursing organizations opted for aid given by the state so nurses would be properly paid and soldiers would receive aid from well trained personnel. Wounded soldiers had the right to be helped and nurses had the right to be satisfactorily paid and only the state could guarantee both. Others also opted for state help, but for other reasons. Where radical nurses underlined the rights, they mainly pointed at obligations. Soldiers had the duty to fight and nurses had the duty to assist those who got sick or wounded so they too could do their bit for the Fatherland in need.


Central Committee Local Committee Ambulance Work Wounded Soldier Military Budget 
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Copyright information

© Centaurus Verlag & Media UG 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  • Leo van Bergen
    • 1
  1. 1.dep. of Medical Humanities (Metamedica)VU-university medical center AmsterdamAmsterdamThe Netherlands

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