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Music

Geddy Lee's mother identified in Holocaust photo using facial recognition technology

Geddy Lee has successfully identified his mother in a photo taken at a displaced persons camp during the Holocaust. The photo was bought to the Rush singer and bassist’s attention thanks to facial recognition technology. Lee was subsequently able to identify other relatives in similar photographs.

The AI technology was developed by Daniel Patt, a Google engineer who, like Lee, is the descendant of Holocaust survivors. The From Numbers to Names project allows users to upload photos of their family members and then match their faces to anonymous subjects in Holocaust photos.

Speaking about the project with The Times of Israel, Patt said: “I started this project after visiting the POLIN Museum of the History of Polish Jews in Warsaw, Poland, in 2016. I couldn’t shake the feeling that I had potentially walked past a photo of a family member without even knowing it. I’m the grandson of Holocaust survivors, all from Poland.”

Geddy Lee’s mother, Mary Weinrib, passed away last year at the age of 95. Using a photo of her, researchers at the From Numbers to Names project were able to identify Weinrib in multiple images taken at a displaced persons camp. Patt and his team subsequently approached Lee for confirmation, which in turn led to the discovery of more of the musician’s relatives in the photos.

Discussing the discovery, Patt said: “We reached out to Geddy Lee, from Rush, with a photo we thought was of his mother. He was able to confirm this was indeed a photo of her at the displaced persons camp at Bergen-Belsen. Geddy was then able to subsequently discover photos of his grandmother, uncles, an aunt and extended family by browsing the Yad Vashem collection, where the initial photo came from.”

Mary Weinrib was raised as part of a Jewish community in Poland. Following the Nazi invasion, she and her family were sent to work camps such as Auschwitz. While many of her family died, she was freed in 1945 after the liberation and later married Morris Weinrib, who she had fallen in love with during her time at Auschwitz. They relocated to Toronto, where Mary gave birth to Geddy.