Gisella Perl (10 December 1907–1988) was a Jewish gynecologist who lived in Sighetu Marmaţiei, Romania (at the time Máramarossziget, Hungary due to the Second Vienna Award), until 1944 when the Nazis invaded Hungary and deported its Jewish population.
She was deported along with her family to Auschwitz concentration camp, where she lost both her husband and only son as well as her extended family and parents. She was given the task of working as a doctor within the camp, helping the inmates through their disease and discomfort, which she had to do without the bare necessities: antiseptic, clean wipes, even running water. She is most famous, however, for saving the lives of hundreds of women by aborting their pregnancies, as pregnant women were often beaten and killed or used by Dr. Josef Mengele for vivisections.
After leaving Bergen-Belsen, her final destination, she found out both her husband and son had died. She tried to poison herself and was sent to recuperate in a convent in France until 1947. Upon her arrival in New York City (March 1947), she was interrogated upon suspicion of being of assistance to the Nazi doctors of Auschwitz in carrying out human rights abuses. She was finally granted citizenship in 1951. She began work as a gynecologist in New York's Mount Sinai Hospital and delivered around 3,000 babies in New York alone, becoming an expert in infertility treatment.
I was a doctor in Auschwitz
In June 1948, Gisella Perl published the story of her incarceration at Auschwitz, detailing the horrors she encountered there as an inmate doctor. The book was titled I was a doctor in Auschwitz and included Perl's description of operations on young women's breasts without anesthetics, a knife her only instrument. The procedure was observed by warden Irma Grese, deriving pleasure from their suffering. Perl's account of these operations was identical virtually in every detail to testimony of Dr. Olga Sulima, an inmate physician from the Soviet Union, according to Bernard Braxton.
Dr. Perl was later reunited with her daughter, Gabriella Krauss Blattman, whom she managed to hide during the war, and they both moved to live in Herzliya, Israel. Perl died in Israel in 1988. She was sole author or coauthor of nine papers dealing with vaginal infections published between 1955 and 1972.
- Brozan, Nadine. Out of Death, a Zest for Life. New York Times, November 15, 1982
- Perl, Dr. Gisella I was a doctor in Auschwitz. Ayer Co., ISBN 0-405-12300-0.
- Sonja Maria Hedgepeth, Rochelle G. Saidel, Sexual Violence Against Jewish Women During the Holocaust. UPNE 2010, page 187. ISBN 1584659041.
- Bernard Braxton, Sexual, Racial and Political Faces of Corruption: A View on the High Cost of Institutional Evil. Verta Press 1977, pp.48-49.
- Gisella Perl: Angel and Abortionist in the Auschwitz Death Camp
- Gisella Perl
- Journal of Women's Health, Profiles: Dr. Gisella Perl