Spoiler alert…if you haven’t finished Lilac Girls you may want to read this once you have…
I’ve been loving my Skype sessions with book groups that have just finished Lilac Girls. One of the first questions many of them ask is “What happened to Herta Oberheuser after she was released from prison?”
After several Polish “Rabbits” (above) testified that Herta participated in the horrific sulfa experiments at Ravensbruck Concentration Camp, Herta was found guilty on all counts and sentenced to 20 years in prison.
Herta was quietly released from her twenty years after serving only five years, with permission from the United States. Like many other Nazi concentration camp doctors she returned to practicing medicine and developed a “flourishing medical practice” in northern Germany. There, she was recognized by a Ravensbruck survivor who quickly got word to French survivors, who contacted Caroline Ferriday. Once Caroline heard Herta was free she mounted a campaign, with the help of her physician friends at The British Medical Association, to have the doctor’s medical license revoked.
In August of 1958 Herta’s license was revoked but she continued to practice medicine while she appealed the case with the support of some high profile friends and a cadre of lawyers.
But before long Caroline and others’ hard work resulted in a victory for the victims of the experiments and Herta’s medical license was permanently revoked (below, a newspaper account found in Caroline’s archives).