Carl Hirsch is the son of Emma (Wurmbrand) and Markus Hirsch. He was born April 1, 1912 in Czernowitz. Carl had three siblings: Lilly (b. 1910), Jakob (b. 1916) and Rosa (b. 1919). During WWI Carl and his older sister lived in Vienna with their mother, while their father served in the military. At the conclusion of the war the family moved back to Czernowitz. Two years later, in 1920, Markus died, leaving Emma to raise the children alone. Carl went to a public school that was predominantly Jewish and attended a Hebrew school in the afternoons. From 1925 to 1931 he was also involved in the Hashomer Hatzair Zionist youth movement. After graduating high school Carl studied engineering at the Bucharest Polytechnic. At the time of the German occupation, Carl was working for the national railroad in Czernowitz. Like the rest of the Jewish community, the Hirsch family was forced into a ghetto on October 11, 1941. A few days later, families living on certain streets in the ghetto were ordered to assemble at the railroad station for deportation to Transnistria. The Hirsch family was among them, but because Carl was an engineer for the railroad, the family was exempted. Carl also was able to get an exemption for his fiancee, Lotte Gottfried, and her family.
Lotte Gottfried is the daughter of Caecilie (Rubel) and Max Gottfried. She was born May 16, 1918 in Czernowitz, where her father was a lawyer. Lotte had one sister, Friedricke (b. 1902). Until her high school graduation in 1936, Lotte attended the Hoffmann Gymnasium. She continued her education at the University of Czernowitz, where she had almost completed a graduate degree in philology when the Soviet occupation began. During this period she became engaged to Carl Hirsch.
The couple was married October 18, 1941. A few days later, they were among the 16,000 Jews who received official authorizations to remain in Czernowitz, exempting them from deportation to Transnistria. Carl continued his work for the railroad under both the German and Soviet occupations. The couple left Soviet-ruled Czernowitz (Chernovtsy) for Bucharest in 1945, where the family remained until immigrating to the United States in 1962.