The Boy on the Wooden Box: How the Impossible Became Possible … on Schindler’s List

Leon Leyson

The Boy on the Wooden Box: How the Impossible Became Possible . . . on Schindler's List
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The Boy on the Wooden Box: How the Impossible Became Possible … on Schindler’s List

Leon Leyson

Leon Leyson (born Leib Lezjon) was only ten years old when the Nazis invaded Poland and his family was forced to relocate to the Krakow ghetto. With incredible luck, perseverance and grit, Leyson was able to survive the sadism of the Nazis, including that of the demonic Amon Goeth, commandant of Plaszow, the concentration camp outside Krakow.

Ultimately, it was the generosity and cunning of one man, a man named Oskar Schindler, who saved Leon Leyson’s life, and the lives of his mother, his father, and two of his four siblings, by adding their names to his list of workers in his factory - a list that became world renowned: Schindler’s List.

This, the only memoir published by a former Schindler’s List child, perfectly captures the innocence of a small boy who goes through the unthinkable. Most notable is the lack of rancour, the lack of venom, and the abundance of dignity in Mr Leyson’s telling.

The Boy on the Wooden Box
is a legacy of hope, a memoir unlike anything you’ve ever read.


Only occasionally does a book come along that I can recommend to everyone I meet. This is one of those books. Probably one of the last Holocaust memoirs to be published, it was written by the youngest person on Oskar Schindler’s famous list.

Leon was only nine years old in 1939 and when the Nazis invaded Poland. His family endured numerous hardships, including forced removal from their home and near starvation, before a chance errand led his father to a job in Oskar Schindler’s factory. Although Leon was initially terrified of Schindler, he gave jobs to the whole family (Leon was so small he had to stand on a wooden box to perform his work), rescuing them from certain death in concentration camps.

Written from the perspective of Leon as a child, the story perfectly captures the innocence of this small boy and his terrible circumstances with simple, heartfelt prose. But this is not just a children’s book. Like The Diary of Anne Frank, it is a profound story suitable for a family or students to read and discuss together. It is an important memoir that is both heartbreaking and inspiring, one I feel certain you will never forget.

Angela Crocombe is the Children’s Book Buyer at Readings St Kilda.

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