Leon Leyson was just a skinny kid
Leon Leyson was just a skinny kid during World War II but he was chosen to work for Oscar Schindler, though he was so little that he couldn't reach the handles on the machine. He used to stand on an upside-down box. Schindler developed a fondness for him, nicknaming him little Leyson and showing him many kindnesses. Leyson later recalled: "Occasionally, when he was by himself, he would come and talk to me. He ordered that I get extra rations of food .."
When Leyson's vision began to blur from the factory work, he was excused from the night shift. Schindler's most important act was putting little Leyson on the final list. His two eldest brothers did not survive the war, but he, his parents and brother and sister were saved by Schindler.
Leon Leyson met Oscar Schindler once after the war, in 1972, when a group of survivors invited Schindler to Los Angeles. Leon was among those who welcomed him at the airport. He wasn't sure Schindler would recognize him, but no reminder proved necessary. "I know who you are," said Oscar Schindler. "You are little Leyson!"
Little Leyson's mother and sister were among the 300 Schindler-women, who were routed on a train to Auschwitz by a mistake. Certain death awaited. When they were being herded off toward the showers they did not know whether this was going to be water or gas. Suddenly they heard a voice: 'What are you doing with these people ? These are my people.' Schindler! He had come to rescue them, bribing the Nazis to retrieve the women on his list and bring them back.
The women were released from Auschwitz - the only shipment out of the death camp during World War 2.