Gerda Beruh is the daughter of Yaakov Marcus Beruh (b. Skilinow, Poland, Dec. 1, 1887) and Nechama (b. May 8, 1928 Jarychow, Poland). Gerda was born on January 19, 1927 in Vienna and her sister Sonja was born on May 8, 1928. Gerda's father was an accountant and her mother a skilled seamstress. Due to her mother's business acumen Yaakov was able to open his own business in Vienna making threads. Yaakov's younger brother had previously moved to the United States and sent them an immigration affidavit. However, by the time Yaakov received the document and went to register with the American consulate, the quote for those originally from Poland was very high and their number would only be called a year later. The family tried to reach Italy as well but needed $900 for an entry visa which they did not have. Hence, Gerda and her sister were sent on the Kindertransport to England in January 1939. Their father had been deported to Buchenwald and was killed in November 1939
The girls first stayed with a family which was arranged thru a former au pair in Vienna who went to work in England a domestic for a wealthy family, and the girls stayed with this family for a short period of time. They moved to hostels in Newport and in London. Gerda studied at the Technical College in Newport graduating in November 1944 when she began to work in an office. Her sister was able to study and matriculate high school. Once she was working she contributed her salary to the hostel.
Their mother, Nechama attempted to immigrate illegally to Palestine in 1940. She boarded one of three small boats that sailed from Romania. When they arrived in Haifa, the British wanted to deport the passengers to Mauritius aboard the Patria. The Hagannah tried to avert this by disabling the Patria. They overestimated the amount of dynamite required and as result blew up the ship killing some 200 passengers. Nechama was on the top deck and managed to break a port hole and escape with the help of another passenger. She settled in Haifa and worked as a seamstress. In 1945, after the war, Gerda joined her mother in Haifa. Sonja remained in London and in 1995also immigrated to Israel. Gerda married Michael Ilan in 1952 and has two sons and 12 grandchildren. She completed her studies at the Hebrew University in sociology and paints in her spare time.