John Rinde was born in Poland in 1937. His family moved to Lvov in 1939 when the Soviets invaded and lived there for three years, the last six months of which were spent in the ghetto. In 1942, his parents acquired false papers and the family escaped to Lublin, where they pretended to be Polish Catholics until the war ended. During this time, they sheltered several relatives in their house, assisted by their father's boss, who gave them extra money, found them jobs, and provided other helpful services. They continued to masquerade as Catholics in Lublin and Gdansk until 1945, when they went to France to immigrate to the United States. Upon discovering how long that process would take, they settled in Paris. When the Korean War started, his father, fearing World War III, decided to leave Europe. The Rinde family arrived in the United States in January 1952 when John was seventeen.