Lillyan was a five year-old schoolgirl when Hitler came to power in 1933. She lived with her parents, Ernest and Margarete, and her older brother, Werner. Halberstadt was a center of Orthodox Jewry in Germany. After 1933, the Jews of Germany were slowly pauperized and constantly humiliated. In 1935, the Nazis enacted the anti-Jewish "Nuremberg Laws." Jews were stripped of their German citizenship.
Believing that the harsh restrictions and the daily ostracism were only temporary, Lillyan's family did not attempt to leave Germany where their family had lived for generations. Many others, however, did leave.
As conditions worsened, most German Jews became desperate to leave. Their ability to do so was limited, as most were impoverished. Additionally, other countries began restricting the number of Jews they would allow in. German Jews were trapped.
On the night of November 9-10, 1938 a centrally planned, country-wide riot against the Jews occurred. Arson and the destruction of Jewish-owned property took place in every single town where Jews lived. That night was known afterwards as Kristallnacht because of all the broken glass found in the streets.
World opinion was aghast at the horror and violence of that night. Individuals and organizations in various countries attempted to remove as many endangered children as possible from Nazi Germany. On December 2, 1938, a first transport of 320 children was sent to England. By September 1939, 9,354 children were evacuated. The transports were halted at the outbreak of war. Lillyana's parents managed to find a place for their eleven year-old daughter on a transport to England. Her parents and older brother, Werner, saw the train off.