LOS ANGELES (JTA) – Theodore Bikel, who fled the Nazi occupation of his native Vienna for prestate Israel, will be honored by the Austrian government on the 75th anniversary of Kristallnacht.
On Thursday, Bikel, 89, will accept the country’s highest honor in the arts before giving an hourlong concert of mainly Yiddish songs interspersed with a few numbers in English and German.
High-ranking Austrian government and cultural leaders are scheduled to attend the commemoration of Kristallnacht, the November 1938 pogrom in Germany and Austria.
For the finale, Bikel will present the “Song of the Partisans” in Yiddish, and will ask the audience to rise as he renders the powerful words and notes of the anti-Nazi resistance during World War II, he told the Los Angeles Jewish Journal.
“The Nazi criminals are gone, I am still here,” he said during an interview in his West Los Angeles home.
“I think I was created for this occasion,” Bikel added, referring to the Vienna commemoration.
Bikel, who gained fame as Tevye in the musical “Fiddler on the Roof,” is producing and starring in the documentary film “Theodore Bikel in the Shoes of Sholom Aleichem.”