Gertrude Black (nee Lewinsohn)was born in Elbing, East Prussia, in 1912, and grew up in a society dominated by Junker values. Julius Lewinsohn was born at Graudenz [then] East Prussia in 1875. Her father was a prominent lawyer and a highly educated man. She remembers a happy, secure and comfortable home life as well as her schooldays. The family had to move to Düsseldorf around 1929 when her father was involved in an antisemitic incident. She studied at the University of Lausanne, then in Berlin, where she witnessed the Nazi takeover of power. She married in 1937, but her husband was arrested on Kristallnacht and released only thanks to the intervention of a stranger. They fled with their baby daughter to Britain, where she spent the war in Edinburgh and Glasgow working as a domestic servant, supported by the Reverend J. Hope Moncrieff of the Church of Scotland. They had a second daughter.