John Rinde was born in Poland in 1935. His family moved to Lvov in 1939 when the Soviets invaded and lived there for three years, the last six months of which were spent in the ghetto. In 1942 John's parents acquired false papers and the family escaped to Lublin, where they pretended to be Polish Catholics until the war ended. During this time, they sheltered several relatives in their house, assisted by their father's boss, who gave him extra money, found jobs, and provided other helpful services. They continued to masquerade as Catholics in Lublin and Gdansk until 1945, when they went to France to immigrate to the United States. Upon discovering how long that process would take, they settled in Paris and had planned to stay there, but when the Korean War started John's father, fearing World War III, decided to leave Europe. The Rinde family arrived in the United States in January 1952 when John was seventeen.