She was born as Herta Taussig in Vienna, Austria. She earned a master's degree from the University of Vienna in 1934 and took a teaching position at the university. However, her father (the editor of Die Neue Freie Presse) had publicly opposed the Nazis, so in 1938 she and her parents emigrated to England, taking a job as a maid because the English immigration laws prevented her from entering the country as a teacher. In 1944 she and her mother moved to the United States (her father having died a year earlier), and began teaching mathematics again at the Greer School in upstate New York.
She earned a second master's degree in 1948 from Columbia University, and a doctorate from Columbia in 1953. Meanwhile, in 1948, she had joined the faculty at Hollins, where she eventually became a full professor and department chair. In 1962 she served as a section president for the Mathematical Association of America, the first woman in her section to do so. She retired in 1971, but returned to teaching again in 1979 after the death of her husband, Arthur Freitag, whom she had married in 1950.
After her retirement, she became a frequent contributor to the Fibonacci Quarterly, and the journal honored her in 1996 by dedicating an issue to her on the occasion of her 89th birthday (89 being a Fibonacci number).