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Abstract

In the United States after the wars of the 19th. century, particularly after the Civil War, no professional social workers existed who could have cared for the wounded soldiers and civilians or for the disabled veterans. But in Europe, during the war of France and Italy against Austria, in 1859, the foundation of some services for the wounded soldiers of the three involved nations were laid by a Swiss banker, Henry Dunant of Geneva who arrived by accident on the evening of the bloody battle in Solferino (Italy) and started to help bandaging some of the bleeding victims of this fight. When he recognized that he and his valet were not able to provide aid even to a small number of the many wounded, he went to the surrounding villages and persuaded a number of peasants to help him and his servant to bandaging other injured soldiers. He also continued his journey and asked the commanding general of the Italian and French armies to send soldiers and physicians to help the injured. As a consequence of this experience, Dunant published the story of this fact "Un Souvenir de Solferino" which was sent to several European monarchs, including the wife of Emperor Bonaparte in France and Queen Louise of Prussia and stirred public opinion in several countries to the recognition that aid for war-wounded persons was necessary. These actions led to the foundation of the "International Red Cross" in Geneva in 1864, which afterwards employed social workers, Ryrses and physicians who assisted injured persons in wars and natural catastrophes.

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