Leyson was just a skinny kid when 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.
recalled: "Occasionally, when he was by himself, he would come and talk to
me. He ordered that I get extra rations of food .." David M. Crowe tells in
his great book Oskar Schindler how Schindler on one occasion gave little
Leyson "a hunk of bread", which Leyson later described as "the
most exciting thing" he had been given in a long time. The boy hid the
bread and later shared it with his father and brother.
Oscar Schindler at Plaszow
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.
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.
From the film Schindler's List
Thomas Keneally tells in his famous book Schindler's Ark how the women
were marched naked to a quartermaster's hut where they were handed the clothes
of the dead. Half dead themselves, dressed in rags, they were packed tight into
the darkness of freight cars. But the Schindler-women with their heads cropped,
many too ill, too hollowed out, to be easily recognised - the Schindler-women
giggled like schoolgirls. One of the women, Clara Sternberg, heard an SS guard
ask a colleague: 'What's Schindler going to do with all the old women?' 'It's no
one's business,' the colleague said. 'Let him open an old people's home if he
The train rolled out of Auschwitz ..
From the film Schindler's List
A Schindler survivor, Abraham Zuckerman, later recalled: 'Can you imagine what
power it took for him to pull out from Auschwitz 300 people? At Auschwitz, there
was only one way you got out, we used to say. Through the chimney! Understand?
Nobody ever got out of Auschwitz. But Schindler got out 300 ...!'
The author Stella
Muller-Madej was one of the women. She has recounted her memories in her book,
entitled A Girl from Schindler’s List, which has been translated into 9
languages. She later told:
I’ll say is nothing poetic, but I will repeat till the end of my days that the
first time I was given life by my parents and the second time by Oscar
In ‘44 there were around 700 women transported from Płaszów, 300 of whom
were on his list, and he fought for us like a lion, because they didn’t want
to let us out of Auschwitz. He was offered better and healthier ‘material’
from new transports, unlike us, who had spent several years in the camp. But he
got us out .. he saved us ..'
When the women arrived to the factory in Brunnlitz, weak, hungry, frostbitten,
less than human, Oscar Schindler met them in the courtyard. They never forgot
the sight of Schindler standing in the doorway. And they never forgot his raspy
voice when he - surrounded by SS guards - gave them an unforgettable guarantee:
'Now you are finally with me, you are safe now. Don't be afraid of anything. You
don't have to worry anymore.'
One of the Schindler-women later recalled that on seeing him that morning
she felt that 'he was our father, he was our mother, he was our only faith. He
never let us down.'