Nesse's family had a dairy business. The Germans occupied Lithuania in 1941 and established a ghetto in Siauliai. Nesse lived in the ghetto until 1943 when she was old enough to work. In 1944 Nesse, her mother, and a brother were deported to the Stutthof camp near Danzig. Nesse worked in several Stutthof subcamps until January 1945, when the inmates were put on a death march. She was liberated by the Soviets in March. Nesse, her mother, and two brothers survived, and she arrived in the United States in 1950.
I remember in Lodz, my mother saying to me, "Nessele"--that's an endearing word for your name, Nesse, Nessele--"you know we are two women alone. I think it would be a good idea if one of us would get married." Now my mom was 46 years old, and I thought in my heart, "Why would she want to get married? She has me." I was angry. But the next thing out of my mother's mouth was, "My child, I had a wonderful husband. I don't think I will marry again, but I think you should marry. Look here is a few guys. They're all very nice. Choose one and get married. We'll have a man that will help us and take care of us." So, honestly, I just looked at Jack and I thought he was cute. And, uh, many times I ask him, I say, "Jack, who proposed? How did we decide to get married?" I don't remember kissing him before we got married. I don't remember us being in love before we got married. We needed each other. But let me tell you, we are married a long time. We are very much in love now.