Elvira Sasson (born Elvira Elhai) was born on November 26, 1942, in Athens, Greece, to Claire Jesurun (b. October 5, 1914 in Turkey) and Jacob Elhai (b. January 17, 1914 in Heraklion, Crete). Claire was the oldest of eight children: Gilda, Renee, Rosa, Judy, Joseph, Suldana, Ralph, and Lilly (who died before the war, at age two). Claire and Jacob were married in Athens on April 15, 1940. After Greece surrendered to the Axis powers in June 1942, the country was divided into zones of occupation. The Elhai family lived in Athens, part of the German occupied territory. There Jacob worked as barber. With the assistance of the Athens police, Jacob was able to obtain false identity cards for the three of them, and found a safe place in the countryside for the family. He settled in Korinthos and Claire and Elvira joined him there. After a while, they moved to another village, Hiliomidi, because Jacob was concerned for their safety. After the Germans evacuated Greece in September 1944, the family returned to Athens, where their son Victor was born on November 30. The Elhai's returned to Korinthos every summer for vacation after the war. Though Eliva's immediate family survived, much of her extended family perished having been deported to Auschwitz in May, 1944.
In 1951, when Elvira was 9, the family emigrated to the United States, arriving by the ship, Nea Hellas, in New York on April 30. They went to Williamsport, Pennsylvania, where Jacob's first cousin, Jack Levi, who had sponsored their immigration, gave them a home and work. However, after six months, they moved to Baltimore, Maryland, to join Claire's surviving family: her mother, a brother, and a sister who had survived the Holocaust .