Lilly was born in Beuthen, Germany in 1926. Even though she managed to escape the concentration camps, her life was marked by the events that she witnessed as a child and the hardships that her family had to endure during the times of the war. Lilly led a privileged life. Her father owned furniture stores and considered himself a Jew, but also took pride in being German. He seemed oblivious to the changes around him until her mother decided it was time to acquire visas and leave Germany.
Lilly has horrible memories of the SS officers and remembers them coming to their house. She witnessed Kristallnacht and remembers crying and asking her mother “Why are they doing this? Why am I different- I didn’t do anything wrong.” A month later, the family took a boat to Bolivia. Lilly worked as a maid for her uncle in Lima, Peru until her mother sent for her. They led a hard life in Bolivia. While there, Lilly met a Jewish musician from Argentina who was 15 years older than she was. He left her two years later when she had his baby girl. She was a single mother and life was hard, but Lilly was resourceful and hardworking.
She married Steven Lesley, a marine, in 1952 at the age of 26. She moved with him to the States and they had three children together. He passed in 2003.