Righteous Among the Nations - Adélaïde Hautval
“Let us behave like human beings as long as we are alive”
Dr. Adélaïde Hautval was a French psychiatrist, who studied medicine during the beginning of the 30’s at the University of Strasbourg, in a time when women were not as present in the medical world as they are today.  After Germany invaded her territory in 1940, France was divided by the conqueror. Germany ruled most of northern and western France, while the area where Adélaïde lived was controlled by the Vichy government which cooperated with Nazi Germany. In April 1942, Adélaïde learned about her mother’s death in German-occupied Paris. She wanted to attend the funeral, but the German authorities didn’t allow her to cross the border. Adélaïde decided to take the risk and cross the border illegally, but she was arrested by the German police and sent to prison in Bourges. There she encountered Jewish prisoners with yellow badges on their clothes. She was furious to see how they were treated and voiced her opinions to the guards in protest. In response, the guards told her that from now on she would be treated the same way. From that moment on, she wore a yellow piece of paper that said, “Friend of the Jews”.
In January 1943, Adélaïde was sent to the Birkenau death camp with another 200 French women prisoners. She stayed in the women’s barracks with 500 Jewish female prisoners. The Jewish women called her “the saint” due to her treatment of the prisoners. Adélaïde used her medical knowledge and cared for Jewish prisoners who had typhus. She knew how contagious the disease was. Her main concern was to separate the sick from the other prisoners, to prevent the spread of the disease. In addition, Adélaïde was appointed camp physician by the camp commander. Knowing what would happen to the reported sick prisoners, she purposefully withheld information regarding their illnesses, preventing their imminent death. Within three months she became a beacon of hope to the Jewish prisoners, as she worked day and night to prevent the spread of diseases and provide treatment for the ill.
Afterwards, Adélaïde was transferred to the Auschwitz I camp. She was sent there to work in block 10, where medical experimentations were conducted. At the beginning, she thought that the doctors that worked under Dr. Mengele were focusing on finding medicine for cancer. She soon found out that the real purpose of Dr. Mengele’s medical staff was to perform horrifying human experiments, mostly on the Jewish prisoners. The Nazis treated the prisoners like lab rats to satisfy their scientific curiosity. On one occasion, they asked Adélaïde to sterilize a woman with no anesthetic, but she fiercely refused. Furthermore, she wasn’t afraid to tell the Nazis exactly what she thought about these experiments, even though it put her in grave danger. When one of the doctors asked her “Don’t you see that these people are different from you?”, she answered:” Many people are different from me, you, for example”.
When Adélaïde refused to take any part in Dr. Mengele’s experiments on Jewish twins, she was sent back to Birkenau. She was appointed again camp physician, but this time her main purpose was to detect prisoners who were ‘unfit for work’ and report to the Nazis. Adélaïde knew that these people would be sent to the gas chambers, therefore she never wrote her patients’ names, no matter how sick they were, and tried to do her best to cure them.
Adélaïde managed to survive Birkenau and in 1944 she was transferred to Ravensbrück where she continued to take care of the ill prisoners as she did before. She stayed in Ravensbrück until the end of the war. After the camp was liberated by the Russians she finally returned home, but the memories of the war stayed with her until her death.
In 1962, Adélaïde testified in the libel trial of the author and Holocaust survivor Leon Uris in London. Uris was prosecuted by the polish doctor Wladislas Dering after he described in his book the horrifying medical experiments that Dering performed in Auschwitz during World War II. Adélaïde testified about what she witnessed, so Dering and the other medical staff will be punished for their atrocities.
In May 1965 Adélaïde Hautval received the title “Righteous among the Nations” from Yad Vashem. A year later, she came to Israel for a ceremony that was held in her honor, and she planted a tree in the Righteous among the Nations’ Garden.
 Gutman et al. The Encyclopedia of the Righteous Among the Nations: Rescuers of Jews During the Holocaust; France. (Jerusalem: Yad Vashem, 2003) p. 298.
 Bartrop et al. The Holocaust: an Encyclopedia and Document Collection.( Santa Barbara, California: ABC-CLIO, an imprint of ABC-CLIO, LLC, 2017) p. 276.
 Ibid, p. 276.
 The Encyclopedia of the Righteous Among the Nations: Rescuers of Jews During the Holocaust; France. pp. 298-299.
 Ibid, p. 299.
 Ibid, p. 299.
 Ibid, p. 299.
 Raymond Jennings. Holocaust Saviors: True Stories of Rescuers That Save Holocaust Refugees. 2nd edition. (Place of publication not identified: Publisher not identified, 2015) pp. 18-19.
 Ibid, p. 19.
 Ibid, p. 20.
 The Holocaust: an Encyclopedia and Document Collection p. 276.
 The Encyclopedia of the Righteous Among the Nations: Rescuers of Jews During the Holocaust; France. p. 299.
 Holocaust Saviors: True Stories of Rescuers That Save Holocaust Refugees. 2nd edition. p. 21.
 Ibid, p. 22.
 The Holocaust: an Encyclopedia and Document Collection. p. 276.
 Holocaust Saviors: True Stories of Rescuers That Save Holocaust Refugees. p.23.
 Ibid, p. 23.