Youngest Jew saved by Schindler mourned

Steven Spielberg with Holocaust survivors including Leon Leyson, second from right (Photo: AP)

Steven Spielberg with Holocaust survivors including Leon Leyson, second from right (Photo: AP)

The youngest Jew to be saved by Oskar Schindler has died at the age of 83.

In the 70 years since Leon Leyson was given a second chance by the heroic German businessman, he emigrated to America, served in the US army and carved out a career in teaching. Mr Leyson was married for 46 years and is survived by six grandchildren.

He survived the Holocaust only after the intervention of Schindler, who gave him work at his factory. The boy known to Schindler as "Little Leyson" had to stand on a box to do his work.

Born in Poland, he was ten when the Nazis occupied the country and his family was sent to the Krakow ghetto.

Just 13 when he was rescued – one of 1,100 Jews helped by Schindler – two of Mr Leyson's brothers were killed but with Schindler's aid both his parents and two siblings also survived.

Mr Leyson, who had been diagnosed with lymphoma four years earlier, rarely talked about his early life until after Steven Spielberg's 1993 film was released. Speaking a few years later, he said he had not wanted to give his children "a legacy of fear" by dwelling on his past.

He told the Los Angeles Times that watching the film was "like having an out-of-body experience… little kids who were … trying to get away from the Sondercommando - that was me."

Last updated: 1:19pm, January 14 2013