Leon Leyson, who died Saturday in Whittier, was not quite ten years old when the Nazis invaded Poland and pushed his family into the Krakow ghetto. He taught at Huntington Park High School for nearly four decades without talking much about his Holocaust experiences. Only after the 1993 film "Schindler's List" came out did he start to discuss being saved by the real Oskar Schindler. From Elaine Woo's LAT obituary:
Coaxed into breaking five decades of near-silence on the subject, Leyson — the youngest member of the group rescued by Schindler — embarked on a public speaking career that took him across the United States and Canada to share his story about coming of age during the Nazis' brutal reign.
"Any time he told his story he never used notes, he never gave the same talk twice. It always came from the head and the heart," said his friend and Chapman University religious studies professor Marilyn Harran. "It made people walk away wanting to be better people, to care more, to remember not only the Holocaust but to remember that we can never be indifferent."
Leyson immigrated to America in 1949. 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 four decades, retiring in 1997.