Agnes Heller was born on May 12, 1929, in Budapest, Hungary into a middle-class family. She is a daughter of Paul Heller, a lawyer, and Angela Heller (maiden name Ligeti), a homemaker.
During the Second World War, Heller’s father helped people to collect the documents necessary to emigrate from Nazi Europe. In 1944, he was sent to the Auschwitz concentration camp where he died before the end of the conflict. Agnes and her mother managed to flee the deportation.