Olivia Schneider Newman was born in 1938 in Vienna, Austria, in a Jewish family. Her father was taken away from the family when Olivia was very young, and he was never seen again; he probably died at Mauthausen. Her family secretly relocated to Hamburg, Germany, where they began new lives as German gentiles and hid their Jewish heritage. During the war, Olivia experienced frightening air raids in Hamburg. She and her mother survived the Holocaust, but Olivia was not allowed to learn Yiddish and learn more about Judaism. She wondered why her mother never talked about such things, but she learned why later in life as she began to rediscover her own history. Olivia Newman eventually moved to the United States where she raised her family and worked as an artist.