Ernie Gross was born in 1929 in Turt, Romania. His father was a salesman and his mother was a language tutor. He had five brothers and two sisters. In April 1944, when Ernie was 15 years old, the Hungarian occupiers deported him and his family to the Sevlus ghetto for several weeks into cramped and near starving conditions. Then they were deported to Auschwitz, arriving in late May 1944.