almost five decades, Leon Leyson never said much about the horrors of Holocaust
or the salvation of becoming one of Schindler's Jews.
But the film Schindler's
List changed everything. Overnight everyone was interested in the subject -
people were eager to hear from someone who had actually been there with Oscar
Schindler. Leon Leyson
found himself talking about and sharing a part of his life that was locked
inside him for so long.
Oscar Schindler and his Jews
Many students have heard Leon Leyson tell the story of his
sixteen-year-old brother, Tsalig, who refused Schindler's railway station offer
of safety and chose instead to accompany his girlfriend to a death camp because
he did not want her to be alone.
In Elinor J. Brecher's great book Schindler's Legacy Leyson tells how the
Nazis took Tsalig and sent him with a transport to the death camp Belzec, though
he might have been saved: "It seems that Oscar Schindler was at the
station, looking to pull someone off the train. He had seen Tsalig at Emalia
with Moshe - he had the memory of an elephant - and offered to take him
off. But Tsalig didn't want to leave his girlfriend."
They were both murdered by the Nazis.
More than 60 years later , Leyson still cannot tell his brother's story without
tears in his eyes.
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.
know who you are," said Oscar Schindler. "You are little Leyson ...!"