Youngest Survivor on Schindler's List Dies at 83
The youngest of 1,100 Jews saved from the Nazis by righteous gentile Oskar Schindler has died in Southern California at the age of 83.
Leon Leyson died Saturday in Whittier from lymphoma, his daughter, Stacy Wilfong, told The Los Angeles Times.
Born in Poland, Leyson was about 10 years old when the Nazis invaded the country in 1939 and sent his family to the Krakow ghetto.
While Leyson lost two brothers during the Holocaust, he, along with his parents and two other siblings, managed to survive the war, under Schindler’s protection.
Dubbed by Schindler “Little Leyson,” he was so short at the age of 13 that he had to stand on a box to operate machinery in the safe haven of the factory.
His work experience in Schindler's factories led him to study industrial arts at L.A. City College and Cal State L.A. before earning a master's in education from Pepperdine University in 1970. He taught machine shop and was a guidance counselor at Huntington Park High School for 39 years.
Leyson, who immigrated to American in 1949, rarely spoke of his experiences until the 1993 movie “Schindler’s List” ignited public interest in the stories of Holocaust survivors, leading him to embark on a public speaking career to share his story.
"He put everything on the line," Leyson said of Schindler. "Even to treat us as human being was against the law.... He did it because he was a decent human being."