Herma Barber (born Herma Ellenboghen) was born August 6, 1921 in Vienna, Austria. Her parents owned a wholesale hat business. In the mid-1930's Herma went to school and held a job as an apprentice in a Jewish-owned shoe store in Vienna. Soon after the Anschluss in March 1938, Herma no longer was able to attend school. However she retained her apprenticeship despite the dismissal of most of the other Jewish employees and the deportation of the owner and his son to Dachau. At this time Herma's parents applied for an American visa, but they were informed that the quota was filled. Her married sister fled with her family to Belgium, while her brother escaped to Italy. Herma and her parents then decided to make their way on foot to the Yugoslavian border, Once safely across, they headed for Zagreb, where they were aided by the local Jewish community. Because they had no legal permit to reside in Yugoslavia, they were arrested and interned, along with 150 other refugees, in the nearby village of Samobor. The Zagreb Jewish community continued to look after their basic needs in the camp.
Following the German occupation in 1941 the Ustasa rounded-up their group of refugees and brought them to Karistinas, and from there they were shuffled from place to place, including Sarajevo, Mostar, Gacko, and Capljina. Late in 1941 Herma and her parents left the group and made their way to Split in the Italian zone. After a further arrest they were transferred to Dubrovnik, where they rented a room, worked at odd jobs and rejoined the larger group of refugees. In 1943 the group was sent to a concentration camp on the island of Rab, where conditions were still tolerable. Soon after Italy's capitulation, Herma and her family escaped to the mainland, to an area controlled by partisans. Rumors of an impending German attack kept them on the move, though they did not know where to go. In the summer of 1944 Herma's group came into contact with Randolph Churchill in the town of Topusko. Members of the group appealed to him for help in getting the Jewish refugees out of Yugoslavia and into the refugee camp in Bari, Italy. Herma and her family ultimately succeeded in reaching Italy, where they remained until their immigration to the United States in 1949. It was only after the war that Herma learned that her sister's family had been killed in Auschwitz.