Marta Kupfermann (now Elkana) is the daughter of Beno and Blanka (Klein) Kupfermann. She was born April 26, 1928, in Rastolica, Romania, a village in Transylvania. She had one brother, Aurel (b. 1925). Both of her parents had come from Yugoslavia. Marta's father was born in Senta (Serbia) and grew up in Budapest. Her mother was born in Kula (Croatia) and lived in several Croatian towns in her youth. Soon after finishing school in Budapest, Beno found employment with a Swiss wood manufacturing firm called Survey. While working for the company in Pozega (Croatia) he met Blanka Klein, and the two were married in 1924. Beno was subsequently appointed the company's representative in Romania, where he was put in charge of buying up stocks of wood and establishing factories to produce wood products in towns throughout Romania. For the next decade the Kupfermanns moved from place to place in Romania, always hoping to return one day to Yugoslavia. After living for brief periods in Rastolica, Brasov, Targoviste, and Moroeni, the family moved to Bucharest in 1935 in order to find suitable schools for the children. Marta attended a British, Anglican missionary school, while her brother went to a French school. While the Kupfermanns kept the Jewish holidays and went to synagogue, they were not involved in Jewish cultural or political organizations. However, in the spring of 1935 Marta's parents did go on a month-long sightseeing excursion to Palestine by way of Egypt. In 1938 an extensive project to build five new factories in southern Moldova required Beno to move to Gugesti. Not wanting to disrupt the children's education, it was decided that Aurel and Marta would remain in Bucharest. Aurel boarded at the French school, while Marta went to live in the home of a Jewish widow along with two other children. This situation continued for two years until the fall of 1940 when the National Legionary State was installed in Romania. At that time the British staff of the Anglican missionary school left for India, and Marta's Jewish landlady went with them. Twelve-year-old Marta then moved in with friends and began attending a new Jewish school that was opened after the Romanians barred Jewish students from studying in the public school system. Marta and her brother lived through the Bucharest pogrom that took place from January 21 to 23, 1941, which was perpetrated by the fascist Iron Guard. Fearful for the safety of their children, Beno and Blanka moved back to Bucharest in March and Marta was moved to the same French school as her brother. At this time the Kupfermanns were considering returning to Yugoslavia, but the German invasion of that country in April brought an end to those plans. While many Jewish families in Bucharest fell victim to the antisemitic policies of the Romanian government, the Kupfermanns enjoyed the protection of the Swiss firm that continued to employ Beno at its regional headquarters in the capital throughout the war. Beno, however, did have to submit to an antisemitic regulation that disqualified him from signing business documents, a function that he turned over to a Romanian assistant. During the last five months of the war in Romania, from April to August 1944, Bucharest was subject to fierce bombardment by the Allies, and the Kupfermanns were forced to take cover in bomb shelters many times a day. Soon after the Soviet liberation of the capital, Marta's brother left home to join Tito's partisans in liberating Yugoslavia. He returned six months later and then left again to study in Paris. Life under the new communist regime in Bucharest soon became oppressive, and in 1947 the Kupfermanns began making plans to immigrate to Palestine. They had to wait until August 1949, however, before they could secure the necessary papers to leave.
Marta's mother was able to maintain contact with her family in Croatia until late 1941. Through her brother Bruno she subsequently learned that in January 1942 her parents, Julius and Rosa (Gruenwald) Klein, and four of her five brothers (Zlatan, Zdenko, Milan and Dragan) were deported from Zagreb to the Jasenovac concentration camps. All but Rosa perished there. The fifth brother, Bruno, was a physician who had been stationed by the Croatian authorities at a hospital in Banja Luka (Bosnia), where he was kept as a prisoner when not working. Sometime in 1942 under unknown circumstances, he was able to locate his mother who had been transferred to a camp in Djakovo, and remove her by stretcher to Banja Luka, where he nursed her back to health. For the next two years Bruno and Rosa remained in Banja Luka until they were killed during an Allied bombing raid in April 1944.