Lilly Neustadtl was an only child, born in Hamburg in 1920 to a Czech father and a Viennese mother. She grew up in Berlin, where her father was the director of a private bank. They lived in a large apartment and she had a completely secular upbringing, only discovering she was Jewish at school. She had no knowledge of anything Jewish until attending the Jewish Lessler School in Berlin in 1933 and the Oneg Shabbat at the Reform Synagogue. The family emigrated to Prague in December 1936 and Lilly to England as a mother’s help on 31 July 1939. Her father died in Prague in Oct 1941 and her mother was transported to Theresienstadt and later to the East.
Lilly came as a mother’s help to the family of a pharmacist in Southampton. She was made part of their family but was only paid 7/6 (i.e. 7 shillings and 6 pence) instead of 15/- (i.e. 15 shillings) per week. She stayed for 18 months and then moved to her aunt in Lancaster for a week and then to a family of a doctor as a mother’s help. She was paid more but was not treated as one of the family. She stayed for about 6 months and moved to Manchester, where she lived in digs and had a series of jobs. She joined the Czech Club and met her husband, a refugee from Czechoslovakia. They married in the Register Office in March 1942.