Dr. Adelaide Hautval was a psychiatrist, she lived in southern France. In April of 1942, she received news of her mother’s death. She traveled to Paris, which at that time was occupied by Nazi Germany. She was not allowed to go to the funeral, because the border was closed. Dr. Hautval decided she would take the chance to attend her mother’s funeral, by taking the risky trip to cross the Demarcation line, but she was captured and arrested. When she was in jail, she was accompanied by many Jewish prisoners. She was mad at the guards not from her mistreatment, but the mistreatment to the Jewish prisoners. She told the guards, ”They are human beings just like us.” The guard replied, ”From now on, you shall be treated like a Jew.” She had to wear a yellow patch stating ”Friend of the Jews.”
She was then transferred to other prisons, but was soon sent to Birkenau death camp along with two hundred French women prisoners. Even though Dr. Hautval was a protestant she was still sent. At Birkenau there were five hundred Jews at the camp. Among all of her fellow prisoners she was considered ”the saint”. She treated the prisoners like they were common patients, and was also trying to prevent outbreaks of diseases such as typhus. She wanted to help people so they wouldn’t die from immediate death from these dreadful illnesses and malnutrition.
She was then sent to Auschwitz. Her reaction to Auschwitz death camp, ”we are under sentence of death. Let us behave like human beings as long as we are alive.” At Auschwitz she was sent to the Medical experimentation block, Block 10. This is where
Dr. Mengele and his fellow doctors would do experiments on humans. At first, she was unaware of the true treatment of torture to the women, so she was sent to work to find answers to women’s cancer. As time went on, she realized that this hospital was more of a laboratory; she refused to work when a doctor told her that she must complete a surgery to sterilize a woman without any anesthesia. She was forced to watch the women when the other doctors completed the surgery. Dr. Mengele was told of her disobeying orders so he tried to force her to operate on a pair of Jewish twins. She refused. Without any further punishment she was sent back to Birkenau.
After the war, her camp was liberated and she was finally free again. But from the malnutrition from the camps her health was forever impaired. In 1962, she was a major witness in the testimony against the doctors who participated in those cruel experiments. She collaborated with Leon Uris, an author who exposed the cruel experiments in his book. In this Book, other survivors would tell other stories of torture. The book became evidence against the Nazi doctors in the courtroom. The judge for the case was surprised by the courageousness of Dr. Hautval. She had made her stand for the Jews and so he was honored to have met her.
In 1965, Dr. Adelaide Hautval was recognized by Yad Vashem as ”Righteous among the nations.”