Out of the Ashes
Written byGisella Perl (book)
Anne Meredith
Directed byJoseph Sargent
StarringChristine Lahti
Beau Bridges
Richard Crenna
Bruce Davison
Jonathan Cake
Jolyon Baker
Music byCharles Bernstein
Country of originUnited States
Original languageEnglish
Executive producersGerald W. Abrams
Thomas Michael Donnelly
Robert Halmi Jr.
Marianne Moloney
Edward, Duke of Edinburgh
ProducersLee Levinson
Robertas Urbonas
CinematographyDonald M. Morgan
EditorMichael Brown
Running time113 minutes
Production companiesArdent Productions
Contenders Only
Cypress Point Productions
Lietuvos Kinostudija
Original release
  • April 13, 2003 (2003-04-13)

Out of the Ashes is a 2003 American made-for-television biographical drama film that was released by Showtime. It is a dramatization of the life of Holocaust concentration camp survivor Gisella Perl and is based on her book I Was a Doctor in Auschwitz.[1][2] The film is dedicated to the memory of Richard Crenna, who died three months before it was released.


Gisella Perl, a Jewish-Hungarian gynecologist from Sighetul Marmatiei, Romania, testifies before an Immigration & Naturalization Service (INS) review board consisting of three men. Perl is seeking to be granted citizenship after passing the New York State Medical Licensing Board examinations, wishing to begin practicing in New York. She recounts her early life when she aspired to be a doctor despite the admonishments of her father, her time practicing as a gynecologist before the German invasion, and her experiences as prisoner #25404, where she provided what medical care she could to fellow prisoners. Her most controversial actions included providing late-term abortions to pregnant women in order to save their lives. These pregnant women would otherwise have been killed immediately or subjected to the torture of horrific "medical" experiments.

Perl is accused of "colluding" with the Nazi doctor Josef Mengele who directed experiments on pregnant female inmates at the Auschwitz concentration camp. As the review board questions her over several days, she becomes increasingly emotional and questions her own determination to survive, as well as her guilt at having lived while so many others did not. She testifies that despite her intention to keep herself and others alive, she unknowingly became part of the Nazi efforts to kill, but she held on to the hope that the lives of the women she saved would undermine the efforts of the Nazis to exterminate the Jewish race. After she is granted citizenship and begins to practice in New York, she gets a call to attend one of the women whose first baby she had aborted in the camp. She delivers the baby and sees her wish that the Jewish race will survive fulfilled.[3]



  1. ^ Holden, Stephen (2003-04-12). "Television Review;; A Doctor (and Inmate) at Auschwitz". The New York Times. Retrieved 2017-06-21.
  2. ^ Pogrebin, Robin (2003-04-13). "Cover Story; Entering the Gray Areas Of Survivalist Morality". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2017-06-21.
  3. ^ IMDb Plot summary