Youngest Name on Schindler's List Dead at 83

Leon Leyson was 13 at the time

By Kate Seamons,  Newser Staff

Posted Jan 14, 2013 9:15 AM CST

(Newser) – The Los Angeles Times today has the fascinating obituary of Leon Leyson, notable for being the youngest person on Schindler's List. Leyson was among the 1,100 Jews saved from the Nazis by Oskar Schindler, who employed them in his Krakow factory; "Little Leyson," as he was dubbed by Schindler, was 13 at the time. He died in California at the age of 83 on Saturday after battling lymphoma. The Times explains that the high school teacher remained largely mum on his experience for almost 50 years, until the 1993 film brought his ordeal to light. He spent the ensuing years speaking around the US and Canada. Among the Times' more revealing details:

  • Leyson lost two brothers at the hands of the Nazis, and regularly broke down in recounting how Schindler, as depicted in the movie, boarded the concentration camp-bound train brother Tsalig was on. Schindler tried to save him, but the 16-year-old wouldn't deboard without his girlfriend, who wasn't named as a Schindler employee.
  • His one beef with the film was that he felt the film played up Schindler's womanizing and other faults, rather than emphasizing more of his "basic human decency." Leyson recounted how Schindler doubled his rations when he noticed the boy was weak.
  • Leyson last saw Schindler in 1974, but was stopped by the man as he tried to introduce himself. Said Schindler, "I know who you are. You're Little Leyson."
Click for more on Leyson's life, or read about a Hitler statue that is rattling Warsaw.

In this March 2009 photo released by the New South Wales State Library, shown is the Schindlers List papers.
In this March 2009 photo released by the New South Wales State Library, shown is the Schindlers List papers.   (AP Photo/New South Wales State Library,Bruce York, HO)
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