Maria Helene Françoise Izabel Gräfin von Maltzan was one of eight beautiful children born into a very wealthy aristocratic Prussian family. She grew up on the family's vast beautiful estate in Silesia, Germany (today Milicz, Poland). As a child she loved animals and dreamed of becoming a veterinarian. After high school, she enrolled in the University of Breslau to study zoology and botany over the objections of her family. In 1928, she went on to the University of Munich then to the University of Berlin, where she earned a doctorate in natural sciences. An early marriage with Walter Hillbring, a cabaret artist, lasted only a year. After the Nazis rose to power in 1933, she joined several different resistance organizations including the Swedish Church at Landhausstrasse. She was close to the members of the Kreisau Circle. She provided safe havens for Jews, falsified their official documents, and helped them escape from Berlin, at times in trucks that she drove herself. From 1942 to the end of the war, she sheltered her handsome lover Hans Hirschel, former editor of Das Dreieck, an avant-garde German literary journal, in her apartment in Berlin-Wilmersdorf. In 1940, she began studying veterinary medicine and graduated in 1943. After the war, beautiful Countess Maria married Hirschel, with whom she had had a premature baby in 1942 who died, but the marriage failed. Her health was poor, she struggled with addiction to amphetamines, and at times lost her license as a veterinarian. In about 1975, she opened her own veterinary clinic in Berlin-Kreuzberg, where she became very popular because she often treated pets for free. Her autobiography Schlage die Trommel und fürchte dich nicht (Beat the Drum and Don’t Be Afraid), first published in 1986, was reissued several times. See also Women Heroes of World War II by Kathryn Attwood (2011) and The Last Jews in Berlin by Leonard Gross.