One of The Youngest Surviving Members Of Schindler's List Recounts His Journey From Holocaust Survivor to Southern California High School Teacher and Resident
For 39 years, Leon Leyson taught Industrial Arts at Huntington Park High School in Los Angeles, influencing the lives of thousands of young students. Until 1993, when the feature film "Schindler's List" debuted, Leyson did not talk publicly about what he and his family went through during the Holocaust. He is one of the youngest surviving members of 1,200 Polish Jews whose lives were saved by Oskar Schindler, when he employed them to work in his factories during World War II. Leyson was 10 years-old when the war started and 13 when he worked for Schindler. Leyson's amazing journey from Holocaust survivor to gifted Los Angeles teacher and Southern California resident is documented in the half-hour news special, "A Child on Schindler's List," airing on NBC4 Los Angeles, Saturday, December 20th at 6:30PM, with an encore presentation on Sunday, December 21st at 11:35PM.
Last December, KNBC's Fritz Coleman was scheduled to do a live weather remote from a Hanukkah Celebration in which Leyson was participating as a guest speaker. Coleman interviewed Leyson in advance of the event for a news story and was struck by his remarkable and compelling story. The viewers were too. The station received numerous emails from moved viewers. This prompted Coleman and the station to produce a more in-depth look at Leyson's incredible life.
In the half-hour special, "A Child On Schindler's List," Coleman interviews Leyson about his experiences of being forced into the Jewish Ghetto in Krakow, the unimaginable horror at losing family members and friends at the hands of Nazi soldiers and being saved by an unlikely German Businessman and Nazi Party member who risked great peril to protect him, his parents, older brother and sister and many others from Nazi gas chambers. Leyson also recalls how he moved to the U.S. in 1949. Coleman follows Leyson to the places in Southern California that shaped his new life, such as arriving at Union Station and Los Angeles City College, where he studied to be a teacher. The special also takes Leyson back to Huntington Park High School where he taught for 39 years and remains a legend to past and present students -- even though he has been retired for eleven years.
"A Child On Schindler's List" surprises Leyson with a heartwarming reunion with a number of his devoted students at the school. Some of the students graduated in the 1960s and 70s.
Fritz Coleman hosts the special. "A Child On Schindler's List" was produced by Kimber Liponi. Charles Stewart serves as Executive Producer.