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I Was a Doctor in Auschwitz (Lexington Studies in Jewish Literature)

4.48  ·  Rating details ·  361 ratings  ·  44 reviews
The author offers this book as a monument commemorating the events of the years 1940-1945, commemorating Nazi bestiality, Nazi sadism, Nazi inhumanity and the death of their six million innocent Jewish victims. Every individual story, every picture, every description is but a stone in that monument which will stand forever to remind the world of this shameful phase of hist ...more
Kindle Edition, 142 pages
Published February 28th 2019 by Lexington Books (first published 1948)
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Jan 03, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: reviewed
I had a hard time reading this. It's a slim little publication, not 200 pages, but it took me weeks to complete. I had to omit my original plan to read it during lunch breaks — I couldn't read a paragraph without getting teary, which I'd rather not have happen at work — and I eventually holed up in my bedroom the day this was supposed to be due back at the library to read it in one late night, marathon session.

As for the book itself, it was exactly what it was: a memoir of surviving the Holocaus
Aug 23, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
It has been seventy years since this book was first published and after being out of print it is now available again.
A small book of 130 pages holds the heartbreaking, disturbing, unbelievable and unimaginable truth of the horrors inside the concentration camps of World war 2 from a witness, a doctor that was a prisoner there and survived.
I cried as I read this book and could only read small parts of it at a time.
Rachel Jackson
Mar 30, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I've read my fair share of Holocaust memoirs, but Gisella Perl's story of being a gynecologist and doctor in Auschwitz stood out to me as a unique story of that atrocity in history because of her role as a women's doctor. Her story was presented to me when I first heard it as something very contentious: Perl saved women's lives by terminating their pregnancies, because surely if she hadn't, both the mother and the baby would die at the brutal hands of sadistic Nazi physicians—people like Josef M ...more
I think this book was amazing. This woman really gave every brutal detail that she encountered. I have read a lot of these memoirs feeling that is important to learn these tragic stories and hear their voices. But this book disturbed me more than any other has. She took the time to tell amazing and inspiring stories about these individuals she met, all who wanted to live, only to perish. She was strong and had to do horrible, unthinkable things to save others. She was and remains a hero. I feel ...more
Nandita Goswami
Mar 16, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This has by far been one of the most difficult books I have read till date ! The sheer atrocities committed against humanity will give you goosebumps.
Also, it being a true account gives you an inside picture of life in , not one , but three concentration camps . Definitely makes one thankful for living in the times that one does now.

Alexandra Alexyna
I was expecting a completely different book. Gisela Perl, born in Transylvania under Hungarian rule, arrives in the German concentration camps where she is separated from her family. All die except her who gets to work tangentially with the angel of death. The book offers information we knew
about how the camp was organisd. I would like to see how he gets to work as a gynecologist and to do the job in more detail. i would also like to know more about her life before she gets to the camp and afte
Sofía Aguilar
Jul 11, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book... I have no words. Even thought I finished in a few hours it has been one of the hardest books to read. Every now and then I had to pause and take a deep breath. Being a true life's testimony it shows the reality of three different concentration and extermination camps. I really recommend this book, not only to the ones that are curious about this topic but also to everyone, we do not forget about this time in history. Even thought my county was not directly involved of affected by th ...more
Feb 11, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
There should be no real spoilers except for the fact that this is one of the most heart breaking books you will ever read. This account of jewish and nazi life makes you feel things you did not imagine
Sudeep Laha
the best book to describe the actual brutality happened in the Jew camps. Without any veil, the author gave details on the conditions of the Jews.... it’s like a memoir of a holocaust survivor, and one can relate a lot with the Anne Frank journals... the book is small and 190 paged yet is something one cannot finish it quickly because of the dreadful memories stories and inhumane brutality... at many points in the book you will be filled with disgust by the brutality and each one of the detail w ...more
Edwina Callan
The most fascinating book on the Holocaust that I have ever read.

In 2003, a film entitled Out of the Ashes was released. It was based upon the story of Dr. Perl's life, and starred Christine Lahti as Dr. Perl.
It you don't read the book then at least see the movie.
Jan 28, 2010 is currently reading it  ·  review of another edition
This is a really awesome, powerful book. I have trouble putting it down. It reminds me a lot of Anne Frank.
Dina Marie Gangale
This was the most intense book that I have read, ever. I think it is very sad that it is no longer in print and available. If you are lucky enough to get your hands on it, you NEED to read it.
Apr 12, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A completely tormenting book. Too disappointing to read the details of how seemingly sympathetic civilian Germans become greedy like the evil regime who overtook them. Too excruciating to read how the ordinary people saw their lives fall apart too quickly, from being thrown out from their homes to being torn away from their countries, and seeing their lives fade away slowly or in a whiff after settling in the unspeakably horrid places they never thought existed. Immensely cruel and crushing to t ...more
Sarah Gatewood
Oct 05, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I had been waiting to read this book for several years. I had been unable to get this book without spending quite an amount of money. I was lucky enough to check it out from my library's interlibrary loan through another library. They stopped the program at the end of June which is so disappointing. This book is very different from a lot of accounts of those that survived The Holocaust. Dr. Perl talks about specific people that she was with and their eventual passing. In her speaking of these pe ...more
Linnea Pierre
Aug 29, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is a really important book especially for how it centres the experience of Jewish women. Perl highlights something rarely discussed in holocaust literature; the specifically gendered nature of the violence Jewish women experienced at the hands do the Nazis and how their genocidal ideology manifested as gendered violence. Additionally, her description of the camps and the horrific conditions are visceral; the routinised violence, filth, degradation, brutalisation and starvation. What stood o ...more
Sep 22, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Dr. Gisella Perl was a Hungarian Jewish doctor who survived Auschwitz, and somehow found the strength to bear witness to the attrocities committed by Nazis against her and the prisoners of Auschwitz, and write this book. I am humbled by Perl, her will to survive, her bravery, how clever she was, and I'm so grateful she wrote this book.

Each chapter is an essay on the horrors of Auschwitz, clinically written, and not a single punch pulled. It is incredibly difficult to read, and though every line
Kitty Wenham
Jun 11, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book doesn't seem to be for sale at all anymore, but it is pretty easy to find various PDF versions on the internet. It's not the most amazingly written, like more the more famous books by Elie Weisel, but I imagine this is down to imperfect translations and a lack of editing. However, many people often forget that gender was a large issue during the Holocaust, and this book sheds a light on that. Gisella Perl performed hundreds of secret abortions at Auschwitz and saved the lived of countl ...more
Gayle Francis
Much like Night, Gisella Perl's memoir was written very shortly after the war and her anger and fear are still very much at the forefront. She performed amazing feats of medicine with absolutely nothing she really needed to do them, but she speaks of her acts as though they were simply what needed to be done and not a sign of amazing inner strength and conviction.

Dr. Perl doesn't mince words about the horror and awfulness she witnessed and how low down she went. But she came back up, like so man
Nov 05, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Haunting, disturbing, horrifying, and yet deeply beautiful, "I Was a Doctor in Auschwitz" brought me to tears on many occasions. Despite being a book that I wanted to read, and being less than 200 pages, I found myself taking breaks in between, sometimes lasting days on end. With its honest and detailed depiction of what concentration camps were truly like, Perl captured human suffering and resiliency. It is a difficult read. It will break your heart. But her story, and the stories of those she ...more
Aug 28, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This was quite possibly the most difficult book I've ever read. I could barely finish a chapter without being in tears. The horrific world that was going on in the shadow of the Third Reich are so far from anything that my mind can comprehend.
I wish everyone would read this, but at the same time I don't.
Sep 22, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Dec 09, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: next
This took a very long time for me to get through due to the nature of its content, however, I believe it is something everyone should try to read at some point. It gives a very real insight into the horrors and depravity of the holocaust. The book is no longer in text, but you can find it on
What a vivid picture of her experiences published only a couple years after the war. Perl’s stories are obviously horrific and filled with her rage as well as focus on compassion.

It’s not a very long read, but it’s very sticky. I imagine I’ll be thinking back to this short read and it’s vivid stories for a while yet.
Georgia Mae
Nov 22, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The Bag of Diamonds
“Here, in this Stock Exchange of Hell, the value of a bag of diamonds was three uncooked potatoes...Three potatoes had positive value, they prolonged life, gave strength to work and to withstand beatings...The bag of diamonds itself was good for might delight the eyes of a ruthless murderer, but when the day of reckoning came - it would not save his life...”
W.J. Norman
Apr 17, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
What a hero. What the Nazis did to people was almost unbelievable. I read this book constantly thinking to myself “How can a human being do this to other human beings”. The stories are very graphic but I feel like that is very important to get the real stories and accounts like this.
Melanie Rightmyer
This was one of the more gruesome accounts of the Holocaust that I have read. If you find the descriptions of what occurred in the concentration camps difficult to read then this is not the book for you.
Apr 22, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book is so truthful and raw and heartbreaking. It doesn't matter how many of these stories I read I still cannot belive man can be so cruel. This woman tells her story in small stories with details to make you cry. Things i never thought of before. It truly does the strength of man. ...more
May 27, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Wow! I could not put this book down. I've read other books about the concentration camps but none as revealing and personal as this. It's a wonder anyone who was a Nazi prisoner survived. I really want to read more about this remarkable woman and her life after liberation. ...more
Jul 28, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
To experience such unspeakable horrors yet still find the strength to love and show compassion, Gisella Perl is part of the reason I am the nurse I am today. May we never know such horrors again, and if we should, may we strive to be light amidst the darkness.
Sep 14, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Wow what a read. A tough one, but so important.
I've hunted for an affordable copy for a while now and was delighted it got re-printed this year.
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Gisella Perl was a Romanian Jewish gynecologist deported to Auschwitz concentration camp in 1944, where she helped hundreds of women as inmate gynecologist without the bare necessities to perform her work. She survived, emigrated to New York and was one of the first women to publicize these experiences in English in her 1948 memoir I Was a Doctor in Auschwitz.

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