Nesse Godin was born to an observant Jewish family in Siauliai, known in Yiddish as Shavl. Her parents owned a store that sold dairy products. The city was home to a vibrant Jewish community of almost 10,000 people. It had over a dozen synagogues and was renowned for its impressive cultural and social organizations. During the Holocaust, Nesse survived a ghetto, concentration camp, four labor camps, and a death march. In 1950, she and her husband Jack, also a survivor, came to the United States and settled in the Washington, D.C. area. Dedicating her adult life to teaching and sharing memories of the Holocaust, Nesse has appeared before a variety of audiences including the U.S. Naval Academy, the United States Military Academy at West Point, many federal agencies and military communities, schools, churches, synagogues, and civic groups.