Faces of Resistance: Women in the Holocaust
Dr. Adélaïde Hautval (1906 – 1988)
Dr. Hautval was a French psychiatrist living in Vichy France. In April 1942, while trying to steal across the border to the German occupied zone to attend her mother’s funeral, she was captured by Nazis and incarcerated in Bourges. When she dared to voice objections to the way Jewish prisoners were treated, she was treated similarly, forced to don a yellow Star of David marking her as a friend to Jews. In January 1943, she was one of 230 French women sent to Birkenau, where she used her medical knowledge to treat prisoners who contracted Typhus. Though she was employed as a physician by the camp commander, she did not report prisoners’ illnesses. Women who survived remember her saying, “Here, we have all been sentenced to death. Let us behave like human beings as long as we are alive.” Later, Dr. Hautval was sent to Block 10 of Auschwitz, where medical experiments were performed on inmates by a team of doctors led by Dr. Eduard Wirths. She refused to take part in these, only willing to help victims recover after the operations. She was then asked to aid Dr. Mengele’s experiments on Jewish twins, a request she refused. As a result, she was sent back to Birkenau and subsequently transferred to Ravensbrück, where she survived until liberation.
On a visit to Israel in 1966, after being honored the previous year with the title of Righteous Among the Nations at Yad-Vashem, she stated:
"The return of the people of Israel to their own country is an accomplishment concerning not only itself but the world at large [...] Israel has always played a gestative, fermentative role, due to which it was hated or respected. Its mission in the world continues. May Israel remain faithful to it".