Gisella Perl was born to a Jewish family in Sighet, Hungary (present-day Sighetu Marmaţiei, Romania). When she was 16, she was the only female and the only Jew to graduate from her secondary school, where she was top of her class. Her father Maurice Perl refused at first to allow her to study medicine, but later relented in the face of her determination. She became a successful gynecologist and researcher on female reproduction. She married an internist, Dr. Krauss, with whom she had two children. In 1944, after the Nazis invaded in World War II, Dr. Perl was seized by the Gestapo, along with her parents and husband. Her teenaged son was taken away, but she managed to hide her daughter. The family was deported by cattle car to the Auschwitz concentration camp and she never saw any of them again. She was ordered to work as the camp gynecologist, and was later transferred to Hamburg and then to Bergen-Belsen. She survived, although after the war she attempted suicide. In 1947, she went to New York to lecture on behalf of the United Jewish Appeal. She was eventually granted USA citizenship and worked as a gynecologist at Mount Sinai Hospital, where she become a noted specialist in infertility treatment. In 1948, Dr. Perl published one of the first Holocaust memoirs, I Was a Doctor at Auschwitz, detailing the horrors she had experienced.
She was later reunited with her daughter, Gabriella Krauss Blattman, and in 1979, they moved together to Israel.
A 2003 film called Out of the Ashes was based on the story of Dr. Perl's life.