3-Minute Interview: Leon Leyson

The man born Leib Lejzon was the youngest of the Jewish Holocaust survivors employed by Oskar Schindler during World War II, a story later immortalized in the film “Schindler’s List.” Leyson began working in Schindler’s enamelware factory in 1943 at just 13 years of age. Though his two older brothers died during the Holocaust, Leyson’s parents, sister and another brother survived because of Schindler’s efforts. Leyson spoke in San Francisco recently.

Ithas been 60 years since you worked for Oskar Schindler. What are your memories of the man? I have many vivid memories of Schindler. He would come by after parties and stop and talk to me. Occasionally he would order me double rations of food. In the light of the times, the norm was to murder Jews, not to save them. He took a great many risks by helping us.

Is it cathartic speaking about your experiences in the Holocaust? You would think so, but each time is still as difficult as the first time. My whole extended family was murdered by the Nazis. I never spoke of my experiences until the movie “Schindler’s List” came out. After that, people were very interested in hearing my story.

What was your reaction when “Schindler’s List” was released? When I went to the showing, I couldn’t believe how authentic it was. Being filmed on location, it depicted real people. For me, the worst experience in the movie wasn’t when the atrocities were committed, but when the people were driven from their homes. We didn’t know about the concentration camps. We did not expect anything to happen.

What do you take out of being the youngest survivor on Schindler’s list? In some ways, I regret not remembering more of the people older than I. I was young, and very fortunate to be hired. Everyone’s story is so important from that time; I wish I could remember them all.

Bay Area NewsLocalTransittransportation

If you find our journalism valuable and relevant, please consider joining our Examiner membership program.
Find out more at www.sfexaminer.com/join/

Just Posted

After the pandemic hit, Twin Peaks Boulevard was closed to vehicle traffic, a situation lauded by open space advocates. (Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)
New proposal to partially reopen Twin Peaks to vehicles pleases no one

Neighbors say closure brought crime into residential streets, while advocates seek more open space

Protesters rally at the site of a proposed affordable housing project at 2550 Irving St. in the Sunset District on Saturday, Jan. 23, 2021. (Ming Vong/S.F. Examiner)
Sunset District affordable housing discussion flooded with ‘scare tactics and hysteria’

Project would provide 100 units, some of which would be designated for formerly homeless families

Members of the Sheriff’s Department command staff wore masks at a swearing-in ceremony for Assistant Sheriff Tanzanika Carter. One attendee later tested positive. 
Courtesy SFSD
Sheriff sees increase in COVID-19 cases as 3 captains test positive

Command staff among 10 infected members in past week

Rainy weather is expected in the coming week. (Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)
Rainstorms, potential atmospheric river expected to drench Bay Area in coming week

By Eli Walsh Bay City News Foundation Multiple rainstorms, cold temperatures some… Continue reading

U.S. Poet Laureate Amanda Gorman’s powerful reading was among the highlights of Inauguration Day. (Kent Nishimura/Los Angeles Times/TNS)
Inauguration shines light in this never-ending shade

Here’s to renewal and resolve in 2021 and beyond

Most Read