In unadorned prose, Dr. Gisella Perl documents the horror she witnessed and endured in Auschwitz, a forced labor camp in Germany, and Bergen-Belsen. A gynecologist, Dr. Perl was in charge of thousands of women in Auschwitz, running the camp “hospital” and all the while administering abortions without instruments of any kind (the punishment for pregnancy in Auschwitz was death).
Of course, this book is not easy to read. Dr. Perl is not out to assuage us at all. She is going to present all the horror that language can convey. But she does understand that people have two sides to their nature. In the final chapter, where she depicts the actions of Abbe Brand, we realize that Dr. Perl has far from given up on being a human being. In fact, the actions of a man like Abbe Brand give her renewed hope that people can overcome their bestial urges.