October 16, 1923
Aurich, Ostfriesland, Germany
|Notable work||i will plant you a lilac tree – a memoir of a Schindler's list survivor|
Bernhard "Dick" Hillman
(m. 1945; died 1986)
Laura Hillman (born Hannelore Wolff; October 16, 1923) is a German-born American survivor of Holocaust concentration camps, including Auschwitz-Birkenau. She is also a Schindlerjuden, who survived with the help of Oskar Schindler. She is also a writer and memoirist, as well as a lecturer on the Holocaust, and a former docent at the Long Beach Museum of Art. In 2005, she published a young adult book about her experiences during the Holocaust called i will plant you a lilac tree – a memoir of a Schindler's list survivor.
Laura Hillman was born Hannelore Wolff in Aurich, Ostfriesland, Germany to a large Jewish family October 16, 1923. As a teenager, she was separated from her family after being deported from Germany due to being Jewish. 63 of Wolff's family members were murdered during the Holocaust, including her parents Martin and Karoline Wolff, and her brothers Wolfgang and Selly. Selly Wolff died after a beating at Budzyń concentration camp, which was a subcamp of Majdanek. Her two sisters, Rosel and Hildegard, survived the war, as they were outside continental Europe, one in England and the other in the Palestine Mandate.
Wolff and a Polish Jewish prisoner of war named Bernhard "Dick" Hillman (born December 24, 1915), whose entire family was killed during the war, met at the fourth camp where Wolff had been sent, Budzyń. They were then sent to Płaszów concentration camp, where they both managed to get on the famous "Schindler's list", a list of Jewish workers who were spared from being sent to death camps after the closure of Płaszów. Wolff, along with the other female Schindlerjuden were sent to Auschwitz-Birkenau where they spent a harrowing few weeks before Schindler managed to bribe Nazi officials into sending them to the relative safety of his camp, Brünnlitz, where Wolff and Hillman spent the rest of the war. They were liberated by the Red Army on May 9, 1945.
The couple was married by a Jewish army chaplain in Erding, Bavaria on October 22, 1945. The couple emigrated to the United States, arriving in New York City on January 4, 1947, and settling ultimately in Los Alamitos, California, where Hannelore Hillman changed her first name to "Laura". They had one son in 1954.
Hillman was widowed in 1986 after her husband died of heart disease. In 2005, she published her memoir about her experiences during the Holocaust called i will plant you a lilac tree – a memoir of a Schindler's list survivor. The title came from a promise her husband made to her during their time in the concentration camps, to plant her lilac trees like there were in her childhood home in Aurich.
- i will plant you a lilac tree – a memoir of a Schindler's list survivor. Atheneum Books for Young Readers: NY, London, Toronto & Sydney: 2005. ISBN 0-689-86980-0
- "Laura Hillman Biography at Simon & Schuster". archive.is. 2013-04-13. Retrieved 2018-08-26.
- Luskin, Casey (2013-04-30). "A Holiday Truce: A Holocaust Survivor Speaks Out". Retrieved 2018-08-26.
- Hillman, Laura (2005). i will plant you a lilac tree – a memoir of a Schindler's list survivor. Atheneum Books for Young Readers: NY, London, Toronto & Sydney. ISBN 0-689-86980-0.
- Crowe, David M. (2004). Oskar Schindler : the untold account of his life, wartime activities, and the true story behind the list. Cambridge, Mass.: Westview Press. ISBN 081333375X. OCLC 55679121.
- "Holocaust survivor 'plants' a tree of peace". Orange County Register. 2012-10-18. Retrieved 2018-06-21.
- Pfefferman, Naomi (2007-04-13). "Diary writer Hillman says sharing story is 'my duty' — Jewish Journal". Jewish Journal. Retrieved 2018-08-26.