Zilli Reichmann was born in 1924 in Thuringia as Cäcilie Reichmann, in the circle of a large family. It was a happy time. In 1943 Zilli was the first of her family to be deported to Auschwitz. »Half a year later, my family arrived in Auschwitz one by one – first my father and then the others – they were all picked up one by one. […] Before that I had managed to make it through quite well, but then suddenly I had to take care of my whole family. So I stole. I stole food wherever I could.« She was young and still had a lot of strength, Zilli Reichmann reported in an interview organized by the Foundation Memorial on April 4, 2019 in the Czech Embassy. »And I had a will and a great hatred for those who did this to us.«
On August 2, 1944 she was deported to Ravensbrück for forced labor. Her four-year-old daughter Gretel, her parents, her sister with her six children and numerous other relatives were murdered with gas in the »Gypsy Family Camp in Auschwitz« on the night of August 2, 1944.
Together with her cousin, Zilli Reichmann fled from Ravensbrück, made her way to her uncle in Berlin and procured false papers with which she could move freely until the end of the war, which she experienced in a small town near Vienna. »Near Vienna I worked with my cousin on a vineyard. And in the evenings we always sat on the bench and cried for those who stayed in Auschwitz.«
Already on August 2, 2018, on the occasion of the 74th anniversary of the »Liquidation of the Gypsy Family Camp« in Auschwitz-Birkenau, she gave a moving speech at the Memorial to the Sinti and Roma of Europe murdered under National Socialism.