Leo Weiss

a chance encounter

Leo’s philosophy for surviving in a concentration camp was simple: Don’t bring attention to yourself and don’t stand out. But sometimes you just act.

Leo was about to be shipped out to what he knew would be certain death. What possessed him, he didn’t know, but he bravely told the commanding officer that he wouldn’t leave without his wife who was in the next cell. Leo wasn’t married, but his schoolmate Alecia was the young girl in that cell. He made a courageous attempt to save them both. Surprisingly, the officer let them both stay.

After surviving the war, Leo immigrated to Canada. Decades later, Leo’s son Sol made a trip to Israel where he worked on a kibbutz and befriended a young British woman. Before returning to Canada, Sol stopped in London to visit his new British friend. Miraculously, Alecia was the neighbor of the British girl’s family.

Many years after this chance encounter, Leo’s grandson Kenneth was studying abroad in London and found Alecia and developed a close relationship with her family. Renewing this relationship allowed the Weiss family to witness how Leo’s bravery gave Alecia a chance to survive and build a family of her own.

As Leo recounted before his death, “For many years I didn’t want to talk but I realized that I need to do it for the kids. For as long as I’m here I have to educate the kids, to tell them what happened.”