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Rush’s Geddy Lee: ‘My Parents Met in a Nazi Work Camp During the War’

Rush bassist and vocalist Geddy Lee shared an interesting story about how his parents met, saying it all started in a Nazi work camp back in WWII.

He tells Prog: “My parents met in a Nazi work camp during the war. They were both Polish, and they were born around 45 minutes apart from each other, geographically.

“They were around 12-13 years old when the war broke out, and when the Germans came into Poland they were ghettoized and assigned detail in a work camp.

“They met on their way to the work camp to carry out the manual labor that they were being made to do by the Germans.

“Then they both got shipped to Auschwitz: she was in the women’s side and he was in the men’s.

“They both had a crush on each other, but when they got to Auschwitz they were separated, and my dad would do little things like bribe guards to bring shoes to my mum.

“After a while my mum was transferred to Bergen-Belsen [Nazi concentration camp in northern Germany] and my dad was transferred to Dachau [Nazi concentration camp in Munich], and they lost track of each other until the end of the war.

“But after the war he found her living in Belsen and they got married in Belsen in the camp. By that point it had gone from a concentration camp to what they call a ‘displaced person’s camp, ‘ and after their liberation my mum and dad were moved into the German officer’s living quarters, and the concentration camp was burnt to the ground in a very controversial move by the English soldiers.

“They said it was because of typhus, but I think politically they just wanted to get rid of it. Anyway, they eventually got immigration status to come to North America, and they ended up in Toronto because my father had a sister that lived there already.”

Saying that his mom was always very open with sharing war stories, Geddy continued about what happened in Toronto later on:

“Losing my dad was very traumatic, especially for my mom because she adored him.

“She’s never really gotten over him, to be honest. His death created a lot of stress in our household because my mom had to go to work every day and my grandmother had to take care of us.

“We were just hitting that rebellious teenage period as well, and there was no one really around to keep us together. My sister was getting wilder and wilder, and I was getting interested in other things aside from school.

“I started to get interested in music and playing in a rock band, and I met this crazy guy called Alex Lifeson who was a very bad influence on me – he was the first guy I ever smoked pot with. So our family was coming apart at the seams, and it was all very stressful for my mother. But she’s a survivor and she has a strong spirit.

“And meeting Alex obviously led to us forming Rush, so it wasn’t all bad.”

It wasn’t that bad at all, sir…

This article was first published at Ultimate-Guitar



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