Holocaust survivor Leon Leyson recounts his memories of the war, struggles in a concentration camp, and what Oskar Schindler did to save his life.
From World War II to life in Southern California, where he taught high school for 39 years and became a father and grandfather, the 30-minute documentary "A Child on Schindler's List" follows the beautiful thread of humanity that passes from Schindler to Leyson, to the many people whose lives Leon has touched and made better.
For 39 years, 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 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 years old when he worked for Schindler.
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 e-mails 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 11 years.
"A Child On Schindler's List" surprised 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.