babble-intro-img
babble is rabble.ca's discussion board but it's much more than that: it's an online community for folks who just won't shut up. It's a place to tell each other — and the world — what's up with our work and campaigns.

Gisella Perl, Auschwitz abortionist

Catchfire
Offline
Joined: Apr 16 2003

[trigger warning]

Gisella Perl was a successful Jewish gynaecologist in Sighet, Romania before the Second World War. She was best known for her innovative research into female reproduction. Over the course of her professional life she delivered thousands of babies, saved countless lives, and provided medical and emotional comfort to those in need.

In 1944 she, along with almost all of Sighet's Jews, was transported to Auschwitz, where she was put to work in the infirmary. In the years since the war, her role as a physician in Auschwitz has led her work to be cast under ethical scrutiny: Perl has been simultaneously considered a murderer by some and a saint by others. This controversy largely revolves around her role as an abortionist within the camp. The following article explores her life before, during and after the war aiming to provide a balanced view of her struggles and accomplishments.

 


Comments

Mr.Tea
Offline
Joined: Jul 9 2011

Fascinating and heartbreaking story. Difficult to read, for sure.


Caissa
Offline
Joined: Jun 14 2006

At least one of the Jewish families in Saint John originated from Sighet.


Mr.Tea
Offline
Joined: Jul 9 2011

Caissa wrote:

At least one of the Jewish families in Saint John originated from Sighet.

Sighet was one of the great centres of Hasidic Judaism prior to the war. It's where the Satmar sect originated, which is today the largest Hasidic sect in the world, bigger and stronger than it ever was before the war. A stroll through their neighbourhood in Brooklyn and seeing the streets packed with Satmar children is a poignant reminder of what the Nazis (yemach shemos) failed to do.


Unionist
Offline
Joined: Dec 11 2005

I can't think about the thread topic too much or I'll lose my day, so I'll escape into a humorous memory triggered by Mr.Tea's post.

When I was a child, visitin Brooklyn for the first time in my life, I saw a poster on a pole in Yiddish. I understood the words well enough, but found the subject matter bizarre. I asked my Dad, and he just sort of rolled his eyes. It was a rather nasty denunciation by another Hasidic sect of the Satmar Rebbe - the head of the Satmar Hasidim - accusing him of having spent his vacation "warming his derrière in Miami" (my polite translation) instead of supporting Israel by vacationing there! The Satmar, of course, are uncompromisingly anti-Zionist, and that rubbed whomever (maybe Lubavich?) the wrong way. I wish smartphones with built-in cameras had existed all those decades ago...

I'm proud to be part of a people which takes its politics to heart. And I join in celebrating the survival of the Jewish people notwithstanding the most determined effort in history to wipe us out. Yimach shemam v'zichram!

Thanks for this, Catchfire.


lagatta
Online
Joined: Apr 17 2002

Mr Tea, I'll be provocative and posit that the Nazi persecutions and mass murder contributed to the growth of the reactionary Satmar and other Haredi sects, among a Central European Jewish population that was becoming educated and casting of the shackles of fundamentalist religion and superstition before the Second World War (of course in Budapest, as in Vienna, that process was particularly advanced - the Jewish community of Austro-Hungaria was among the cultural lights of the Western world. 

I certainly feel the great loss of the killing of so many innocent children, and of humans of all ages for that matter. But I am not one bit happy about the resurgence of stifling, women-hating fundamentalism among any community. 

Pardon me, I prefer Jewish women becoming educated and involved in the world, like Dr Perl. Nothing against religious belief and affiliation, but a great deal against religious fundamentalism that enslaves women. 

Thanks Catchfire, wonderful and inspiring story. Dr Perl was a true heroine. 


Mr.Tea
Offline
Joined: Jul 9 2011

lagatta wrote:

Mr Tea, I'll be provocative and posit that the Nazi persecutions and mass murder contributed to the growth of the reactionary Satmar and other Haredi sects, among a Central European Jewish population that was becoming educated and casting of the shackles of fundamentalist religion and superstition before the Second World War (of course in Budapest, as in Vienna, that process was particularly advanced - the Jewish community of Austro-Hungaria was among the cultural lights of the Western world. 

It really depends. There was a huge divide between the "city Jew" and the "Shtetl Jew". Certainly in major cities like Berlin, Prague, Budapest, etc. Jews were very integrated and part of the enlightenment. In the smaller villages in Poland, Hungary, etc. it was a very traditional life centered around family, faith and tradition. Both paths are beautiful in their own way. The Satmar path is certainly not the one I'd choose for my self but it is really inspiring how they've survived so much and continue to cling to the ways of their ancestors and have not only rebuilt the life that was almost destroyed but built it even bigger and stronger before.


Comment viewing options

Select your preferred way to display the comments and click "Save settings" to activate your changes.
Login or register to post comments