Leon Leyson was born Leib Lejzon to a Jewish family in the small rural town of Narewka, Poland. The family sought better living conditions in Krakow, where his father worked in a glass factory. He was nearly 10 years old when Nazi Germany invaded his homeland in World War II. In 1940, the Leysons were forced into the Jewish ghetto at Podgorze, a suburb of Krakow. Two of Leon's older brothers were killed. Leon, his parents, and his surviving siblings were sent to the forced labor camp at nearby Plaszow, where they managed to be included on the list of Oskar Schindler's workers at his enamel factory DEF. Leon was so little that he couldn't reach the handles on the machines and had to stand on an upside-down box. Later, Leon was moved with others to the Gross-Rosen concentration camp in Germany, then to Schindler's munitions factor in Brinlitz, Czechoslovakia. Leon survived the war, and in 1949, at the age of 20, emigrated to the USA. He served in the U.S. Army during the Korean War, then studied industrial arts at Los Angeles City College and California State University. He married his wife Liz, with whom he had two children. He earned a master's degree in education from Pepperdine University in 1970, and taught at Huntington Park High School in Los Angeles for 40 years. After his retirement in 1997, he continued to give talks about his Holocaust experiences. His memoir The Boy on the Wooden Box, published in 2013, became a bestseller.