How Geddy Lee’s Grandmother Saved Family From Nazi Gas Chambers
His parents, Morris and Mary Weinrib, were among those sent to Dachau after surviving Nazi anti-Jewish policies in their native Poland. They were later transferred to Bergen-Belsen and then Auschwitz, where, around the age of 13, they endured constant the constant threat of the gas chambers.
“My mum and dad were in Auschwitz for, I think, a couple of years, and how they survived in there I don’t know,” Lee told Q104.3 New York in an interview to be broadcast in full on Sunday, which is International Holocaust Remembrance Day. “My dad was transferred out of Auschwitz before my mother was. My mother and her sister and her mother survived together.”
He recalled the story his grandmother used to tell: “[Nazi guards] would line them up every day. They would go 'left, right, left, right.' If you went to one direction, you went to the gas chambers. If you went to the other direction, you went to work.
"So my grandmother would rearrange them in the lineup so they all went to the same direction," he continued. "She believed that if they were all going to perish, they would perish together, and if they were all going to survive, they would survive together. My grandmother was an amazing person; she kept them alive throughout their time in the camps.”
“Geddy says his earliest memories are of his mother telling her survival story," Q104 noted. "While those conversations definitely scarred him, he says they also deeply affected his worldview and gave him some much needed perspective on the importance of love, trust and family.”
Around 6 million Jews died during the Holocaust, representing nearly seven in 10 of the Jewish population of Europe. After the war, Lee’s father searched for his mother and found her at a displacement camp, where they were married, and later they settled in Canada.