I am helping a student, Rachel, to write a report on Adelaide
Hautval. We are interested in any information you can give us on her
life before and during the Holocaust. We know that she was a doctor and
she risked her life to help people in the death camps. She was from
France. She was in Auschwitz.
We would appreciate any information you could send us.
Harry W. Mazal OBE answers:
I am one of the persons who responds to questions addressed to
The Holocaust History Project. Using a specialized search
program (Web Ferret) I was able to find some references to Dr.
Adelaide Hautval. The last two, housed in the Wiesenthal
Library's web page are the most informative. They also show
several photographs. You will note that their source is
Macmillan's Encyclopedia of the Holocaust a two volume
book that can be found in most large public libraries. You
may locate it by its ISBN number:
ISBN 0-02-896090-4 (set)
I have listed the web page addresses of each source.
I hope that this information is of some use to your student.
Harry W. Mazal OBE
Many of the individuals listed below received the medal "Righteous
Among the Nations" from the government of Israel and Yad Vashem
(The Martyrs' and Heroes' Remembrance Authority) in Jerusalem. [...]
Doctor Adelaide Hautval--The daughter of a French Protestant pastor,
she was imprisoned in France because she was traveling without a
permit to help her sick mother. In January 1943, she was sent to
Block 10 in Auschwitz where the Nazis, in the name of "medical science,"
conducted experiments upon Jewish women. As the only doctor assigned
to their day-to-day care, she did what she could, hiding sick women
on the upper level of the bunks and not reporting epidemics. She became
known as the "angel in white" to the condemned women. She lived to
testify at several trials after the war involving the German doctors at the
The "Righteous Among the Nations"
YAD VASHEM - The Holocaust Martyrs' and Heroes' Remembrance Authority
Dr. Adelaide Hautval was arrested for illegally crossing the
demarcation line dividing the two parts of France. While in jail
awaiting trial, she vociferously protested the inhuman treatment of
fellow Jewish prisoners. Censured as a "friend of the Jews," she was
sent to Auschwitz, where she refused to join a team of doctors
performing pseudo-medical experiments on women. After the war, Hautval
testified, in the 1964 London trial of Uris vs. Dering, that it was
possible to disobey inhuman Nazi orders even in Auschwitz.
HAUTVAL, ADELAIDE: (b.1906) French Physician. In 1942, she was sent to
Auschwitz for defending the rights of the Jews. As a doctor she helped as
many people as she could, and refused to take part in the terrible medical
experiments carried out on Jews. In 1965 she was given the "Righteous
Among the Nations" award.
French physician. Born into a Protestant family, Hautval studied
medicine in Strasbourg and later worked in several psychiatric clinics
inStrasbourg and Switzerland.
In April 1942, Hautval was arrested trying to cross without a permit
from the occupied to the unoccupied zone in France in order to attend
her mother's funeral. Awaiting trial in the Bourges prison, she
vehemently protested to the Gestapo against the harsh treatment of
Jewish prisoners incarcerated with her. In reprisal, she was
transferred to the Romainville prison with other political detainees,
and eventually sent as a doctor to Auschwitz with a convoy of Jewish
women, arriving there in January 1943. She reportedly bore a yellow
badge attached to her overcoat, with the inscription "A friend of the
At Auschwitz, she helped hide a group of women afflicted with typhus
on the top floor of her block and treated them as well as conditions
allowed. She was later approached by SS - Hauptsturmfuhrer Dr. Eduard
Wirths, the garrison doctor
(Standortarzt), and asked to practice gynecology. Aware of the
sterilization experiments practiced in Block 10, Hautval accepted in
order to gain a firsthand view of the Nazi procedure. She soon
discovered that in this block Wirths was in charge of a team of doctors
(Horst Schumann, Carl Clauberg, and Wladyslaw Dering) who used women as
guinea pigs, sterilizing them by means of X rays and ovariectomy
(surgical removal of ovaries). These experiments were part of a large -
scale plan: sterilization was intended to be applied (worldwide) to all
half and quarter Jews who were left alive after the Nazi victory.
Hautval expressed her complete opposition and refused to participate in
these experiments (in which Dr. Josef Mengele was also involved). She
feared retribution, but was not punished.
After her confrontation with Wirths, Hautval continued practicing
medicine in the nearby Birkenau camp (Auschwitz II) as best she could
until August 1944, when she was transferred to the women's camp at
Ravensbruck. She survived and was liberated in April 1945.
Witness at a Postwar Libel Trial.
A libel trial (Dering v. Uris) was held in London in 1964, at which
Dering claimed that the author Leon Uris had slandered him in his book
Exodus. At the trial, Hautval refuted Dering's claim that it was futile
to refuse to obey orders in Auschwitz, maintaining that one could
bypass SS commands to remove women's ovaries and still manage to avoid
punishment. The presiding judge, Justice Frederick Horace Lawton, in
his summation to the jury called Hautval "perhaps one of the most
impressive and courageous women who have ever given evidence in the
courts of this country."
Hautval received recognition by Yad Vashem as a "righteous among the
nations" in 1965.
Courtesy of Encyclopedia of the Holocaust, 1990,
Macmillan Publishing Company, New York, NY 10022.
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