Gisella Perl (10 December 1907 – 1988) was a Jewish gynecologist who lived in Sighetu Marmaţiei, Romania, until 1944, when the Nazis invaded a part of Romania illegally through 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, such as antiseptic, clean wipes, and 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, using a knife as her only instrument. The procedure was observed by warden Irma Grese, who derived pleasure from their suffering.
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 the sole author or coauthor of nine papers on vaginal infections published between 1955 and 1972.
- Gisella Perl: Angel and Abortionist in the Auschwitz Death Camp
- Gisella Perl
- Journal of Women's Health, Profiles: Dr. Gisella Perl