Leopold "Leo" Rosner (June 26, 1918 – October 10, 2008) was a Polish-born Australian Jewish musician. Rosner survived the Holocaust in concentration camps during World War II by playing his accordion for Nazi guards and officials, earning the attention of Oskar Schindler who likely saved his life. His survival story became known after Australian author Thomas Kenneally's 1982 novel, Schindler's Ark, was adapted into Steven Spielberg's Oscar winning film, Schindler's List. He appeared in the epilogue of the film at the Schindler memorial in Yad Vashem, Israel.
Rosner was a successful cabaret artist and entertainer in Poland by the time Hitler launched his blitzkrieg and occupied the country in 1939. He and his wife, Helen Rosner, were deported separately to the Kraków-Płaszów concentration camp in 1943. While at Plaszow, Rosner was forced to perform his accordion for commandant Amon Goeth.
Rosner's talent with his accordion earned him the attention of Oskar Schindler. Schindler personally had Rosner moved to an enamelling factory in Brinnlitz, Czechoslovakia, in 1945. However, Rosner's wife, Helen, was transferred to the notorious Auschwitz concentration camp. Rosner was able to successfully persuade Schindler to have Helen Rosner removed from Auschwitz. The couple were reunited in Brinnlitz, where they remained until the end of World War II.
Post World War II
Leo and Helen Rosner immigrated to Australia in 1949 and settled in Melbourne. He worked as a musician and eventually fronted a twelve piece band. He continued to perform into his eighties. He was well known in the Melbourne musician business as well as in the Australian Holocaust survivors community.
The couple had two daughters in Australia, Anna and Frances.
Leo Rosner died on October 10, 2008, at the age of 90 of complications from Alzheimer's disease in Melbourne, Australia. He was survived by his wife, Helen Rosner, who was 84 years old at the time of Leo's death. Rosner was also survived by his daughters, six grandchildren and six great-grandchildren.
His wife died in 2010.
- Campbell, James (2008-10-19). "Oskar Schindler survivor dies in Melbourne". Melbourne Herald Sun. Retrieved 2008-11-07.
- "Anna Blay Official Web Site". Anna Blay. Retrieved 25 January 2014.