Elsa was the eldest of three children born to Jewish parents in Brno, the capital of Moravia, where her father ran a successful shipping company. In 1920 she graduated from a German-language secondary school. She married and moved to Bratislava, but the marriage was unsuccessful and Elsa returned to Brno in 1926, where she opened a millinery business.
1933-39: On May 24, 1933, Elsa married Robert Kulka and the couple settled in Robert's hometown of Olomouc. Their son, Tomas, was born a year and a day later. In 1937 Elsa's father passed away, and the Kulkas moved to Brno to take over the family's shipping business. In March 1939 the Germans occupied Bohemia and Moravia, including Brno. They immediately imposed restrictions on the Jewish population.
1940-42: On January 2, 1940, Elsa, Robert, Tomas and Elsa's widowed mother were evicted from their house. That same winter Elsa's younger brother and sister managed to emigrate to Palestine [the Yishuv], but Elsa's husband, Robert, was determined to stay in Brno to save the family business. A year later, Elsa was forced to sell the business to a German for a mere 200 Czechoslovak crowns, or less than $10. On March 31, 1942, Elsa and her family were deported to the Theresienstadt ghetto in the western part of Czechoslovakia.
On May 9, 1942, Elsa was deported to the Ossowa forced-labor camp for Jews. She died after six months of slave labor. She was 40 years old.