Zev Birger (born Wolf Birger) is the son of Pinchas and Feiga (Zippora) Birger. He was born on June 1, 1926 in Kaunas, Lithuania where his father was a building engineer. He had one older brother, Mordechai (b. 1923). The Birgers raised their sons to be Zionists and sent them to the Hebrew language Real Gymnasium in Kaunas. On June 22, 1941 Germany launched a surprise invasion of the Soviet Union and immediately began implementing anti-Jewish measures. That August, the Birger family, along with all the city's Jews, was forced into a ghetto across the river in Slobodka. Surviving several killing actions, the Birger family remained there until the ghetto's liquidation in June 1944. Feiga was sent to Stutthof along with the other women. Zev never saw her again. Zev, his brother and father were sent to the Dachau concentration camp in Germany. Neither Mordechai nor Pinchas survived. Zev worked in an underground arms factory. When the American army liberated Dachau the following April, Zev was suffering from both typhus and malnutrition. Following his recuperation, he worked as an interpreter for the American Army. He also met another survivor, Trudy Simon. They married in Frankfort in June 1946. Zev and Trudy later illegally immigrated to Palestine on a small yacht they boarded in Marseilles. He later became the director of the Jerusalem International Book Fair.