Leon Leyson, who was the youngest of 1,100 Jews saved from the Nazis by Oskar Schindler, has died in California at 83.
His daughter, Stacy Wilfong, tells the Los Angeles Times that Leyson died Saturday from lymphoma.
Leyson was nearly 10 when Germany invaded Poland in 1939. He lost two brothers during the Holocaust but was protected by Schindler and at 13 worked in his factory. Dubbed "Little Leyson," he was so short that he stood on a box to operate machinery.
He later moved to the United States with his parents and taught for 39 years. He also fought in the Vietnam War. He got married in the US and had two children and four grandchildren.
Leyson (second from the right) with 'Schindler's List' director Steven Spielberg (Photo: Getty Images)
Leyson rarely spoke of his experiences until the 1993 movie "Schindler's List" sparked renewed interest. He then embarked on a public speaking career to share his story.
Leyson's two siblings who survived the Holocaust, Aviva Nissenbaum and David (Ephraim) Leyson, immigrated to Israel later on.
His sister, Aviva, 85, told Ynet about the difficult years: "We lived in a village in Poland, and when the Germans entered Poland in 1938 and early 1939, we moved into the ghetto in Krakow. My mother, father, two brothers and I worked at Schindler's factory."
Leyson with his sister Aviva. 'I am sad' (Photo: Amira Lahav)
She said that "Leon was just a schoolboy, and Schindler took him because he said he needed little hands in the factory. Schindler basically protected us and saved our lives. He put us on his list.
"He later transferred us to his new factory in Czechoslovakia and got us out of Poland, because we couldn't have stayed there. He was the one who saved us all from going to the death camp."
According to the sister, "My mother and I were already in Auschwitz when Schindler arrived to rescue us. He came there and just drove us back to the factory."
"I am very sad," his sister said of his death. "It's very difficult, I feel like something has been taken away and will never come back."