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.
We would like to thank Crown Family Philanthropies and the Abe and Ida Cooper Foundation for supporting the ongoing work to create content and resources for the Holocaust Encyclopedia. View the list of all donors.