Kornelia was known as Nelly. She was the older of two daughters raised by Jewish parents in the Hungarian capital of Budapest. Her father fought in the Hungarian army during World War I. Kornelia attended public school and later worked as a bookkeeper for a soap factory. In 1928 she married Miksa Deutsch, a businessman who sold matches.
1933-39: Kornelia's husband was religious and the Deutsches' three children attended Jewish schools. Miksa and his brother were the sole distributors in Hungary of Swedish-made matches, and the business prospered. In May 1939 the Hungarian government began to limit the number of Jews who could be employed in a business, forcing the Deutsches to fire some of their Jewish employees.
1940-44: In 1940 Miksa was conscripted into the Hungarian army's labor service. Later, he was forced to surrender control of the family business to a brother of the Hungarian prime minister. After Germany occupied Budapest in March 1944, Jews were ordered to move to special houses marked with a Jewish star. In October 1944, Hungarian fascists began rounding up Jews from these houses. Kornelia was offered a job at an orphanage through the Swiss embassy. But on November 15, before she could take the job, she was rounded up.
Kornelia escaped detention, but was recaptured and deported to the Ravensbrueck concentration camp in Germany, where she perished. Her three children survived the war.