Date of Graduation
Eberly College of Arts and Sciences
This transnational case study investigates the establishment and development of training programs by two British faith-based voluntary relief organizations, the Friends Ambulance Unit (FAU) and the Friends Relief Service (FRS), during the Second World War and explores the implementation of learned skills by members of those organizations working during the immediate postwar period in the British Occupation Zone in Germany. It contributes new perspectives to scholarship on humanitarianism as it highlights both the continuities and ruptures in the approaches to and practices of humanitarian aid. It identifies the Quaker traditions that shaped the work of the FAU and FRS—particularly the core principles of promoting self-help, impartiality, democratic structures, and internationalism—as they delivered relief and fostered the rebuilding of communities in war-torn northern Germany. It demonstrates how small voluntary organizations integrated their values into the new relief structures of planning-mindedness, professionalization and international collaboration that also characterized the larger relief organizations.
Although the FAU and FRS shared in their convictions of pacifism, goodwill, and humanitarian service, the two organizations conceptualized their role in relief differently and reflected those differences in their respective training programs and to a substantial extent in their postwar service. The FAU focused on the “first stage” of emergency relief that focused on working alongside military bodies to provide medical and material aid to both civilians and the military. In contrast, the FRS focused on the “second and third stages” that centered on providing impartial relief and rehabilitation to civilian populations that did not require assistance or direction from the military. To provide aid in the “second and third stages,” the FRS trained volunteers for postwar emergency relief and rehabilitation as well as how to foster reconciliation among all populations impacted by the war. Training programs for both the FAU and FRS believed that by integrating past experiences as well as contemporary developments to the approach and practice of humanitarian aid, their relief teams would provide efficient and effective relief in the postwar period. By retaining their core principles and traditional approaches to relief work as well as adopting new professional methods to dispense aid, the relief teams sent to the British Occupation Zone in 1945 exhibited an impressive and unique flexibility as they worked with and alongside displaced populations, camp victims, refugees, and Germans in a landscape engulfed with destruction and displacement.
Aksamit, Nerissa Kalee, "Training Friends and Overseas Relief: The Friends Ambulance Unit and the Friends Relief Service, 1939 to 1948" (2019). Graduate Theses, Dissertations, and Problem Reports. 7405.