Ursula was the fourth child in the orthodox Jewish family of Leo and Rosa Littmann, who were originally from Poland. Her father died in 1927, meaning her mother had to work more, so Uschi attended a reading room on Oranienburger Straße after school. From the mid-1930s she was a member of a youth group in the Ring – Association of Jewish Youth led by Judith Kozminski, a friend of Herbert Baum. The group read and discussed a number of books by Marx and Lenin, banned by the National Socialists. The participants also received adhesive notes, which Uschi and her friend Hella Hirsch later stuck to walls. As Jews were no longer allowed to attend higher schools, Uschi Littmann began training as a milliner at the age of 14, in 1935. On the day of the November pogrom, November 9, 1938, she was working in a women’s hat store. The owner sent her down to the basement and she heard everything being smashed above her. That evening, the family decided to leave the country. Uschi’s oldest sister had contacts to Amsterdam and so they crossed the border illegally, aided by a friend of the sister’s. In the Netherlands, Uschi joined a socialist group that took care of refugees. She met her later husband Max Rubinstein in the group, a Jew who had fled from Düsseldorf. The two of them went into hiding after the German invasion. Max Rubinstein forged identity papers and other documents, while Uschi Rubinstein performed courier services. They both survived.