Livia Bitton-Jackson was born Elvira "Elli" Friedmann to a Jewish family in Samorin, Czechoslovakia, in the Carpathian mountains. She was 13 years old when the Nazi Germany invaded in World War II and she was sent with her parents, brother, and aunt to the Nagymagyar Ghetto. Her father was sent to a forced labor camp and the others they were transported to Auschwitz. In 1944, she and her mother were taken to Augsburg, Germany, where she was put to work at a factory assembly line. After this, she and her mother were taken to a subsidiary camp of Dachau, where they were reunited with her brother. Near the end of the war, as the Allies advanced, the three family members were taken by trains further into Germany. Despite the terrible conditions, they all survived. She returned to Czechoslovakia to learn that her father had died at Bergen-Belsen two weeks before liberation. In 1951, she and her mother emigrated to the USA to join her brother in New York. She enrolled at New York University, where she earned a Ph.D. degree in Hebrew culture and Jewish history. She became a professor of history at City University of New York, a position she held for 37 years. In 1977, she moved to Israel. Her memoir I Have Lived a Thousand Years was published in 1997.