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Nurses of the Deutsches Roten Kreuz (DRK)
The vast majority of the nurses serving with the German military came from the Deutsches Roten Kreuz (German Red Cross) though there were a number of other agencies as well. Within the DRK there were two general categories of women Schwestern and Helferinnen. A Schwester (Sister) was always a trained nurse. This name comes from the fact that a century before most nurses were nuns. A Helferin (helper) was an assistant. These were not formally trained nurses but many had received medical training. Helferinnen would also do clerical tasks and non-medical tasks as well. The DRK ran soldiers' homes (Soldatenheim) and refreshment stations (Verpflegungsstellen) as places of rest and leisure for soldiers. Here Herferinen would socialize with soldiers, pass out food and drink, and generally make the place more pleasant. DRK Helferinnen also did outreach to traveling servicemen. It was common to see them on train platforms passing out coffee, water, sandwiches, and other items to German soldiers who were often not allowed to leave the train when it stopped in the station. It is quite common to see these angels of mercy passing food through train car doors and windows. It must have been quite a pleasant surprise to receive food or drink when stopped in a station from a young woman when you were coming back from the front lines.
These photographs were taken from a number of online sources and auction sites. They are presented here for educational purposes.
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