Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Youngest Schindler's List Survivor Dies

Leon Leyson, the youngest surviving member of the famed Schindler's List group of Jewish holocaust factory worker's has died of lymphoma at the age of 83.

Leyson, age 10 when Nazis stormed into Poland taking him and his family to the infamous Krakow ghetto, was one of 1,100 Jews saved from Nazis atrocities by businessman and righteous gentile Oskar Schindler.

One of several children that Schindler told Nazi authorities he needed to clean the small crevices in equipment used to further Hitler's war machine, Leyson was so small for his age that he was required to stand on a box just to reach the machinery he needed to clean. Schindler took notice of Leyson and called him "Little Leyson." After the war and defeat of Nazi Germany, Leyson, like many in his small band of Schindler survivors sought refuge in other countries. At age 20 Leyson made his way to the United States where he lived until his death this week. He took the experience he gained in Schindler's factory and earned his master's in education at Pepperdine University. He spent his life in California as a teacher of industrial arts in one of its high schools for nearly 40 years. Rarely speaking about his ordeal under Nazi oppression, after the 1993 release of the Steven Spielberg film "Schindler's List" he was called upon often to speak openly of those years. Of Oskar Schindler, Leyson only had the utmost respect and gratitude. "He put everything on the line (for us all)." Even though Leyson lost two siblings during the Poland invasion his parents and two other siblings survived with him.

Asked why he thought Schindler, a gentile, womanizer and German businessman would risk everything for the sake of 1,100 people the Nazis considered lower than swine Leyson said, "He did it because he was a decent human being."

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