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The Holocaust History Project.

Adelaide Hautval


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.

Yours sincerely,

Harry W. Mazal OBE


  • http://www.graceproducts.com/text_only/frank/heroes.html

    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 camp.

  • http://www.israel.org/facts/hist/righteou.html

    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.

  • http://motlc.wiesenthal.org/pages/t029/t02914.html

    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.

  • http://motlc.wiesenthal.org/text/x00/xm0061.html


    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 Jews."


    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."

    Postwar Recognition.

    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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