Nathan Leipciger was born in 1928 in Poland. At age 11, after the occupation of Poland by Nazi Germany, he was prohibited from attending school. In subsequent years, his extended family was murdered in various death camps. In August 1943, his sister and mother were murdered in Auschwitz II. Through heroic efforts and at the last moment, his father rescued Nathan from a group designated to go to the gas chamber. Mr. Leipciger and his father then spent the next 21 months in six Nazi concentration camps including Auschwitz, Gross Rosen, Flossenburg and sub-camps of Dachau and were forced on a number of death marches and death trains where they experienced horrendous conditions. They were liberated on May 2 by American forces, at which time Nathan was near death from starvation and exposure to typhoid fever.
Following liberation, they tried to reunite with his father’s only surviving brother but Canada had the restrictive immigration policy towards Jewish refugees of ‘None is too many’. They waited 3 years in Germany before being admitted to Canada.
On arrival in Toronto in 1948, Mr. Leipciger entered Harbord Collegiate Institute, graduating in 1950. After one year of Honours Science at University of Toronto, he transferred into Electrical Engineering and graduated in 1955 with the degree of BASc.
In 1962, together with three partners, he established a Mechanical and Electrical Consulting Engineering firm. In 2008, they became a subsidiary of a multi-national engineering firm. At that time, the firm consisted of over 100 engineers and designers who came from 26 different countries.
Mr. Leipciger has volunteered in many national and international organizations involved in Holocaust education and became a prominent leader in many of them. He was an active member of the CSA Technical Committee on Health Care Facilities.
He continues to speak nationwide, to thousands of adults and high school and university students about his Holocaust experiences and how the commitment to ‘Never Again’ at anytime and anywhere can be realized by reducing the level of hate and advancing mutual acceptance. Mr. Leipciger accompanied Prime Minister Justin Trudeau during his visit to Auschwitz-Birkenau. The Azrieli Foundation published his memoir, entitled The Weight of Freedom, in October 2015.
Mr. Leipciger’s contributions to the community have been recognized by many awards including: Meritorious Service Medal by Governor General of Canada, Distinguished Service Officer’s Cross by President of Poland, Up-stander Award by Facing History and Ourselves, Champion of Human Rights by Saskatchewan Human Rights Council, and Sovereign’s Medal for Volunteers by Governor General of Canada.
Mr. Leipciger and his wife have three married daughters (one recently demised), nine grandchildren and two great grandchildren.