Lotte Auerbach was born into a Jewish family in Germany. Under the Nazi regime of the 1930s, it was difficult for a Jewish female scientist to progress in her career, and she suffered Anti-Semitism, before being dismissed from her teaching post. She left the country in 1933, and having contacts in Britain, arrived in Edinburgh. To support herself, she did some teaching and translation, and cleaned the animal cages in the Institute. After initial difficulty, she was accepted by the University as a PhD student. She became a naturalised Scot, and adopted a German mother and her son as her family. Watching him grow up and have a family of his own gave her enormous pleasure. She was one of the first scientists to warn of the danger of nuclear radiation, and was a strong supporter of the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament. She was also a fierce opponent of apartheid.