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1907-1928  1928-1933  1933 + 1938  1952-1993  1955-1993  1994

Years in Vienna

Leon Askin private Leon Askin was born in Vienna/Austria as Leo Aschkenasy on the 18th of September 1907. In his own words:

"I am a Viennese by birth and I was born on the highest and holiest Jewish Day YOM KIPPUR. My father was an ardent socialist for many years. The interest of my mother was more in the entertainment field. She loved to go to concerts and to the theatre. These different interests - art and politics - more or less governed my childhood. The later years in my youth were influenced by the political change in Austria from the Austrian-Hungarian Monarchy to the first republic of Austria. Especially for my father it was a great change. He used to be a socialist and even a member of the socialist party. But then he became an orthodox Jew. In addition I could feel the growing Anti-Semitism in school as well as among my friends and comrades."

In 1925 Askin began seriously considering acting as a profession. He auditioned with a well known actor in the "Josefstadt", Herman Rhomberg. Rhomberg gave him a recommendation to the director of the state academy of performing arts. His and his family`s financial situation was so poor that he was unable to attend the state academy. His father suggested he attend an evening class at the People's Academy where a famous actor of the time - Hans Thimig - taught acting and Hans Kirchner gave lessons in speech. In addition he took part in the quire for poems or monologues under the direction of Hans Thimig. Hans Thimig believed in Askin as an actor with talent and he gave him private lessons.

"From that moment on I knew my profession in life was and has remained until today an actor's life."

On the 25th of May 1926 Leon Askin stood on a professional stage for the first time. It was a small theater in the Riemergasse in Vienna, named "Panspiele". The play was Rolf Lauckner´s "Schrei aus der Strasse". Most of the performing actors were already professionals. Max Mell´s "Apostelspiel" and Lion Feuchtwanger´s "Der holländische Kaufmann" followed. Strangely enough - the play "Der holländische Kaufmann" was performed nowhere else than in this little theater in Vienna and Lion Feuchtwanger - the famous actor - never saw his play performed on stage.

1927 Leon Askin became a member of the "New School for Dramatic Education", an organization, which was associated with the actors of the "Theater of the Josefstadt" under the guidance of Max Reinhardt. One year later Max Reinhardt took complete charge of this new school and gave it a new name "Das Max Reinhardt Seminar".


Engagement in Düsseldorf

In January 1928 the general director of the "City Stages" in Düsseldorf, Walter Bruno Iltz, came to Vienna. Askin gave an audition and Iltz hired him to become an actor for a full year in Düsseldorf. He played many interesting roles during this year.

Among these were the part of Legrende in Georg Büchner´s "Dantons Tod" and the part of Lancaster in Berthold Brecht´s and Lion Feuchtwanger´s "Eduard II".

By the end of the season the theater in Düsseldorf was taken over in toto by the famous Louise "Dumont Playhouse". From that day on until the National Socialists took over the theaters all over Germany, Leon Askin became a "Dumont actor". The "Louise Dumont Playhouse" was known all over Germany. It was one of the most famous theaters in Germany. It also had a reputation as a theater specialized in putting plays by Ibsen on stage. Louise Dumont was the true protagonist of the so called "Spiritual Theatre"-period. Louise Dumont was the director of the theater. But the one who managed the daily repertoire was Louise Dumont´s husband Gustav Lindemann. He also directed many productions while Louise only came to the last rehearsals to give a final touch to the production.

"It was one of the great chances in my life to become a Dumont actor. To be a Dumont actor was considered to be a great honor for an actor, yet it also had its disadvantages. A Dumont actor was considered to be too stilted - the way we Dumont actors used to speak. It therefor was not easy to get any other engagement in another theater. Directors and producers were afraid of a Dumont actor while at the same time they admired him. Louise demanded perfection. Her kind of performing gave the theater the reputation that it had throughout the world - even in Paris. Louise Dumont - born in Cologne - was a strict catholic, Gustav Lindemann a Jew. My admiration for these two people was great and has remained alive in my thoughts to this very day. My connection to Gustav Lindemann was not one-sided. I regularly received letters from Lindemann until he died a couple of years ago."

The engagement as an actor and assistant director in the Dumont Playhouse was a very active and eventful time. Among several interesting parts Askin performed as Flinch in Berthold Brecht´s "Three Penny Opera", Aljoscha in Maxim Gorki´s "Nachtasyl" and Dreyfuss in Hans Rehfisch´s "Die Affaire Dreyfuss".

After the death of Louise Dumont in May 1932 the Dumont Playhouse again came under the guidance of the "City Stages" of Düsseldorf. There - under the direction of Leopold Lindtberg - Leon Askin played Borachio in Shakespeare's "Much to do about nothing" and the Baron of Wernthal in "Scherz, Satire Ironie und tiefere Bedeutung". His principal success was the Clerk Pfeiffer in Gerhard Hauptmann´s "Die Weber", a rather unpleasant person. But the great Gerhard Hauptmann loved his performance. At last he played Spiegelberg in Friedrich Schiller´s "Die Räuber" under the direction of Leopold Lindtberg. Lindtberg came from Berlin and had made his name as a director and assistant of Erwin Piscator.

"Here I could start singing 'How small is the world'. I started acting in Düsseldorf under the direction of Lindtberg, an associate of Erwin Piscator. Later in life I became Piscator´s assistant director, his assistant and his secretary. Not enough I became a servant of two masters, assistant and secretary of Erwin and his wife Maria Piscator."

On March 11th 1933 Leon Askin was thrown out of the theater as a Jew, on April 15th 1933 he was arrested by the SA on the famous Düsseldorf street named Königsallee, taken away to SA-barracks and beat by a member of the SS.



Leon Askin as Komet Konrad in "Der Weltuntergang"  from Jura SoyferOne day after his release from the police prison, Askin left Germany for Paris. He should spend approximately 5 years in Paris. He started a political cabaret with other emigrated artists. The cabaret was called "Künstlerclub Paris-Vienne" and was very successful.

1935 Askin went for a short time back to Vienna where he started a new project named "ABC", also a political cabaret. Artists such as Jura Soyfer, Hans Weigel, Jimmy Berg and Fritz Eckhart became part of this new cabaret.

"We wanted to bring the political situation in Austria on stage. Naturally we could not do that without pointing to Austrian's northern neighbor Germany. In the years 1933 to 1938 fascist social systems became more and more presentable. With our artistic means we wanted to point out the dangers that Austria was exposed to in the embrace of Hitler, Mussolini and Horthy."

Cabaret ABCIn 1935 Askins activities as art director of "ABC" were interrupted to become stage manager and actor at the State Theater of Upper Austria in Linz for 6 months. Especially his production of Emmet Lavey´s "The First Legion", a Jesuite drama, was a big success. He also played one of the main parts in this production. Otto Ludwig Preminger, director of Josefstadt Theatre by that time, asked Askin to play the same part in Vienna´s production of "The First Legion".

Askin was happy working in Vienna, but the happiness was short lived. 1938 was near and he had to flee his motherland again. Where did he go? To Paris naturally, where he had been once before.

The famous journalist Berta Zuckerkandl gave him a recommendation to a famous Viennese, the beautiful Maria Ley. Maria Ley was known to help refugees, besides she was married to the world famous director Erwin Piscator. Erwin Piscator hired Askin as his secretary and assistant director. However Askin felt that he had become a servant of two masters. He worked for Erwin but he also worked for Maria.
Maria at that time had the idea to write a play. So Askin worked with her on her play and did also secretarial work such as collecting the rent for the various houses in Paris owned by Maria. By the end of the year 1938 Maria and Erwin left Paris for the United States. Askin was left behind to do the Piscators work in Paris and later to follow him to New York. Piscator started his famous school of drama "The dramatic workshop".

Soon world War II started and Askin was put in a internment camp in Meslay du Maine.

"During the first few months Mesley du Maine was a nightmare. We slept in the open air, sometimes it rained, we tried to cover ourselves with some old tents and in the evening we walked through thick mud to one of the dry tents where we made cabaret. One opera singer sang arias, but this whole period in the mud was pretty much of a nightmare."

Finally in December they were transferred into barracks. There they had light, a little stove and some enterprising internee came every morning and brought them fresh rolls, because he had connections with the baker in a nearly village. The greatest problem was water. They only received two glasses of water per day for washing and drinking.

"In the morning we received some very thin coffee. For lunch we had potato soup with a few pieces of meat in it, in the evening we had a very thin meat soup with some potatoes in it. But we were very enterprising. Out of old cans we made a shower and so we were very modern. When we stepped out of the douche we stepped out on a piece of wood so we had some comfort. Captain Bertrand, the commander of the camp, let us build a little theater and he boroughed from the nearby village some musical instruments, so we started an orchestra.

We also cooked some coffee ourselves, but we had no spoons, so we used big nails. One day I received notice that my emigration was accepted and I could leave for America with the next transport. When I said 'Goodbye' to Capitain Bertrand he said to me: 'I thought you love France, why are you quitting it now?' My answer was short and brief: 'Yes, mon Capitain, I loved France but did France love me ?' He understood, stretched his hand out and said: 'Bonne chance, mon ami !' The goodbye from the international camp in Meslay du Maine was very sad.

There were the few friends who stretched their hands towards me to say goodbye, others gave little pieces of paper with addresses of their friends in the United States to me. As I stepped on the truck that took me away, everyone cried, screamed goodbye and until this very day in my ear remains the cry of Meslay du Maine. It was the 12th February - the wedding day of my parents - I stood at the reeling of the 'SS De Grasse', looked into the dark night, thinking 'Will I ever see my parents again, will I ever see Europe again ?', then slowly the land of Europe disappeared in the night."

On February the 29th, 1940 Leon Askin arrived in New York. The first few months in America were not easy for Leon Askin, they brought him quite often in a condition of total depression. He had no real activity that you may call, especially by American standards, a job.

"I went to dinner or to lunch with the Piscators, but when the Piscators left New York for a few days and sometimes not willingly but just simply forgot to leave me some money, it happend that I was in the middle of New York City without a penny. I did not know what my future in America will be. I had no prospects for a job or what to do, my English was very poor."

Askin as Managing Director of the 
Civic Theatre In the fall of 1940 Piscator gave him the first true opportunity: He gave him the temporary position of the managing director of the "Civic Theatre" in Washington D.C., furthermore the direction of a kind of political revue "D.C. Melody". "D.C. Melody" was a colossal flop and Piscator left Washington D.C. . The members of the Civic Theatre elected Leon Askin as their managing director.

The first production that he directed was Irving Shaw's "The Gentle People". It was an immediate success. The only sad matter in this whole affair was his break with Piscator. Nevertheless he visited Piscator in his summerhome on Long Island to clear the situation between the Piscator's and himself. The success of that mission was half and half, they began a correspondence and the success of his productions of "The Gentle People", "Man in White" and "The American Way" astonished Piscator so much that he felt they should start working together again. Askins greatest success as a director was G.B. Shaw's "The Applecart". In Europe "The Applecart" is known through Max Reinhardt's success "Der Kaiser von Amerika". It's a fascinating play, but a talky one. And one critic wrote: "Askin's direction of "The Applecart" beats Shaw in his own game."

It was the fall of 1941 and the opening night of his next production, Shakespeare´s 'Troilus and Cressida' was near.

"'Troilus and Cressida' is the one and only antiwarplay that Shakespeare wrote. Unfortunately I put the opening date on the 5th of December 1941 and on the 7th of December the Japanese bombarded Pearl Harbour. My dream of a theater in Washington D.C. came to a prompt end. The antiwarplay 'Troilus and Cressida' had to give way to the beginning of World War II."

The Civic Theatre closed its doors and Leon Askin became a soldier in the American Army.

"I was put in the Air Corps. I was never educated to serve in the military, but soon my activities in the American Air Corps became very interesting to me. 1944 I was put in charge to write a weekly digest, 'The Orientation Digest', which became one of the most outstanding military publications. It provided important information about the situation in Europe for the soldiers who were sent overseas."

During his time of service, Leon Askin became a citizen of the USA. At the same time he changed his name from Leon Aschkenasy to Leon Askin.

Leon Askin as a soldier Askin received great praise from the War Ministery for his work. On account of the many praises he was also put in the charge to give lectures to the enlisted men.

"Perhaps I was a bit to courageous, one could also say a bit too impertinent. I wrote an editorial in which I attacked Sweden. A totally neutral state as not being so neutral because it delivered the little match-sticks to Germany."

Nevertheless the head of the American Air Force, General Arnold, ordered him out of the United States to overseas duty in England. He could keep his rank as Tech's Sergeant Leon Askin 334727.

"Naturally the transfer to England was only an adventure for me. I was put into a little village called Gatsby and was the main source of information to the 'Enlisted Men'. It was a 'very difficult' job. I was driven by enlisted men from camp to camp to inspect their activities of information and education. That was from Monday to Friday. Friday afternoon I took advantage of my Tech's Sergeant position and went with the fastest train from Leicester, where I was stationed, to London, every weekend, naturally first class. Sometimes I went to Scotland or to other fine places in England."

Before leaving Europe Askin asked his commanding officer for permission to fly to Paris for three days. He wanted to contact the Red Cross to look for relatives who may have survived the death camps of NAZI Germany.

"With hope and anxiety I went to the place where there was such a list, where I could find out places and time what happened to my poor parents. But all I could find out was that both my mother and my father were deported to the death camp of Theresienstadt on the 22nd of July 1942. I also was told that further places where my parents were transported to was the infamous Auschwitz and later Lublin where they were burned to death."

Back in New York after the war Leon Askin started a theater group with actors who served in the US army. The name of this group was VMS (Veterans Memorial Stage). The group elected him to be their president.
He now began to seek work as a director on a Broadway stage and also as a drama teacher. He gave many lectures on the subject of modern American theater and drama in comparison to the European theater and drama.

The first production he directed on the Broadway was Goethe's "Faust" in 1947, in which the great Albert Bassermann played Mephisto and Askin played the title-part Faust. To everyone's astonishment it was a huge success. The second production was the "Merchant of Venice". These two productions were attended mostly by European emigrants and brought the German theater in New York to the attention of the German speaking public in New York.

"The part of the brother of Margret Valentin played an English german-speaking actor named Anton Differing. Differing was an excellent actor yet even excellent actors can make a mistake sometimes. Such a mistake happened to Differing at the dress rehearsals. The lines in Goethe's Faust are the following: 'Und nun ums Haar sich auszuraufen und auf die Wände hinaufzulaufen...'. He changed mistakenly to 'ums Haar sich auszureissen und auf die Wände hinaufzu...', great laughter in the audience."

During this period Leon Askin became also member of the executive board in the Equity Library Theatre, an organisation founded by the American Actors Equity. Leon Askin is a founding member of the AAE. In 1950 Leon Askin received an offer by Jose Ferrer to play in his production "20th Century", a comedy ba Ben Hecht and Charles Mc Arthur. He played the part of Judas for over a year.



In February 1952 Leon Askin received his first offer by Max Arnow, scout of Columbia Pictures. His first film role was a part in the production "Assignment Paris".

"It was very interesting, but I quickly had a dispute with the director and the producer. The director claimed that the fairy tale 'The Girl with the Match Sticks' was written by the Grimm brothers. I told the director and producer that the author was H.C. Andersen, yet they didn't believe me. I again took all my courage and told the producer that he was wrong. He said that he could not believe me and could well understand that I wish to make a good impression on my first day in a film studio. The producer got angry with me. At this very moment the Swedish actress, Martha Thoren, entered the room and was astonished that there was such a violent dispute.

As she was told that 'The Girl with the Match Sticks' was written by the Grimm brothers, she laughed and said, 'I'm a Swede, I should know, and Askin was right!' At this moment Harry Kohn, the executive producer of Columbia Pictures came in and as he found out that I was right he thanked me that I saved Columbia pictures so much money, because they would have had to redo the entire scene, which by now was no longer necessary and I received many pats on the shoulders for saving Columbia lots of money. Such was my entrance into the family of Hollywood actors."

Askin in "Veils of 
Bagdad" And so Askin became a Hollywood actor and he remained a Hollywood actor until August 1993. He appeared in more than 60 Hollywood pictures. Sometimes in big roles, sometimes in small ones. However he remained an accent actor. He spoke English well but he never achieved the pure royal English as spoken in Buckingham palace.

"That is why I was known among my colleges and to my producers as an accent actor and I was condemned, if one could say so, to wait for roles where a Russian, French, Arabian, Rumanian or Chinese accent is expected, but no American. I never became a superstar, yet in the TV series 'Hogan's Heroes' I played the starring part of General Burghalter. I also played a very important part in the first Cinemascope film 'The Robe' with Richard Burton. I had the great chance to play in this film. I played the traitor Abidor and I also was in the 'Virgin Shot', the very first scene, of this important first Cinemascope film."

1961 Billy Wilder hired Leon Askin to play in his successful movie "1,2,3".

"And what did I play? The Russian commissar Peripetschikof. It was more than a pleasure to work with Billy Wilder. He gave me one of the greatest compliments. In the morning, when I arrived on the se,t Billy announced openly: 'Here comes my profi!' What greater compliment could an actor get? The film '1,2,3' was unfortunately bewitched not only with accidents but also with political events. We began shooting the film in East Berlin and on the first shooting day August 13 the infamous wall was erected between East and West Germany. The result was that Billy was forced to build a new Brandenburg gate in the film studios of Munich where we finished shooting. Another unhappy event interrupted our production, when Horst Buchholz had a car accident which kept him from shooting for over two months. Nevertheless '1,2,3' became a great success, not in the beginning but about a year later. It was a beautiful film and I was proud to be in it. My co-stars were among others Lieselotte Pulver and James Cagney."

During his time in Hollywood Leon Askin worked with many big stars, like Doris Day, Audrey Totter, Danny Kaye, Gloria Swanson, Peter Ustinov, Jean Simmons and others.

"It's interesting to work with great stars and it's the easiest work because these big stars work most professionally. I remember an incident with Virginia Mayo; it was the end of the day and Virginia had gone home, Mr. Lubin, our director, believed so. The first assistant looked franticly for Virginia because she had one more scene together with me. My close-ups had to be made and she should give me the key-words. As we finally found her she said, "I am finished for today, Leon can play the counter part of which I am not in the picture". Lubin's answer was typical for the professionalism of Hollywood. He said to Virginia: 'You have another scene with Leon.' Virginia said: 'The assistant director can play that scene because I'm not in the picture.' 'Oh', said Lubin,'have you asked Leon if he will permit that?' Virginia with a deep red face came to me and said: 'Will you do it for me?' I looked at her laughingly and said: 'Get the hell out of here!' "

As for working together with big stars Leon Askin thinks the bigger the stars the easier was the work. In the film "Do not disturb", Doris Day Doris and him became friends.

"In the morning when she arrived she did not say to me: "Good morning, Leon!" but in a formal French: 'Bon jour, mon ami!'. Elizabeth Taylor, one of the most beautiful women in the world and one of the most elegant ones asked her colleges quite often during shooting time: 'Would you care for a glass of wine or whisky?' She was easy to work with. An actor with whom I became great friends and was such a pleasure to work with is Peter Ustinov - he became such a friend.
Another example how easy it was to work with great stars was Allan Ladd. One evening, after a day of shooting had come to an end, I waited in brooding heat for the company car to bring me back to the quarters. It was an extremely hot day in the desert, about 113° Fahrenheit. Suddenly Allan Ladd's car came by and he saw me and said to me: 'What the hell are you waiting around for in that heat?' And as I answered: 'I am waiting for the company car!', he said: 'Nuts, get into my Rolls, it is faster!' These are small incidents, but it is important for me to say something good about Hollywood."



1955 Askin became separated from his first wife Mimi, and after a formal divorce he married Annelies Ehrlich (Lies), the woman he had lived with since 1952. Both decided to make a large wedding trip. Both decided to make a large wedding trip, where they also came to Salzburg and Vienna. There Askin received offers for a couple of motion pictures.

"It was fascinating for me to drive with Lies through the country roads. I also got to know Vienna again by driving through my home town by car. I was curious to find out how the house would look like in which I lived for so long, Sechsschimmelgasse 16. The house was gone, for which I was glad. I was worried if I would have had to fight with former neighbors for my personal property and books, all that was not necessary. Sechsschimmelgasse 16 was bombed to the ground."

Leon Askin and his wife wanted to end their journey in Hamburg. During their stay, they were invited by Ida Ehre, the owner of the Kammerspiele. She was in the need of an actor for Shaw's "Mrs. Warrens Profession". Askin was hired to play the part of Sir John Croft and he was so successful that two years later he played in Shakespeare's "Othello", the greatest success of his life on stage.

"I then went to Berlin, which was always the goal of every German actor, and played in Berlin Johnson's 'Volpone' and Schnitzler's 'The Green Kakadu'. I also took part in a new film of Carl Zuckmayer's 'Schinderhannes'."

Leon Askin and Ida Ehre 
in "Warrens Gewerbe" After this brief interruption the Askins went to Munich where Leon played successfully in Thiele's film "Lulu" with Nadja Tiller. From Munich he was called to Vienna to play in the house he calls his Alma mater the "Theater in the Josefstadt", Beckett´s "Waiting for Godot". His partner was Otto Schenk.

"For the evening of the last performance all my colleges in the play were wearing their best clothes. Anwering my question, Otti said: 'So a Gfries wie Dich sieht man ja nicht oft' and ever since Otti addresses to me in letters only by 'Liebstes Gfries!' I thought my stay in Vienna would be a short one - mistake. I suddenly stood on the stage of the "Academy Theater" which is a side theater of the 'Burgtheater' and I played the 'Marquis de Sade', a successful play on European stages."

Askin hoped to continue his career in Vienna, but was disappointed. He returned to America.

Leon Askin as Marquis de 

1975 he was offered the production of Félicien Marceau´s play 'L´œuf' by the ANTA - American National Theater and Academy. It became a big success that opened new possibilities for Askin as president of the ANTA West. Every year one of the pleasant ones was giving out an award for the best actor of the past year.

"So I spent my time giving out the 'National Artist Award' to Helen Hayes, to Henry Fonda, to the Lunts, etc."

In the beginning of the 1980s, Leon Askin lived a rather quiet life. During that time he wrote the book "Quietude and Quest" that came out 1989.

Suddenly in 1985 Askin received a call from a Japanese film company to play the lead role in "Deshima". This brought him to Japan for 6 weeks for the first time in his life. In 1993 another director called him to play a role in his new film "Occhio Pinocchio", which was filmed in Brescia.


Back to Vienna

In 1994 Leon Askin returned to his birthplace Vienna, Austria. After his first return to Vienna and to Austria in general in 1955 the private character changed totally to a return for professional reasons. He never had an intention to stay in Vienna for good. As he went back to Vienna in his high age, this return was mainly for family reasons.

"In spite of the fact that my return to Vienna had family reasons it became a tragic return through coincidences. Although my separation from my parents was tragic I found the separation from my wife at the age of 87 years even more painful. But I could still give people something through my art."
Every summer since 1996, Leon Askin has made himself available as a “witness” to audience members of “Alma – A Show Biz ans Ende”, a polydrama written by Joshua Sobol and directed by Paulus Manker, since he knew Alma Mahler-Werfel personally.

"1994 I played in a motion picture called 'Höhenangst', produced by Houchang Allahyari. In the fall of 1994 Petrus Van der Let asked me to play a film monologue, the film is called 'Hitler - mein Krampf'. In the same year the actor and director Paulus Manker hired me to play the lead role in a production called 'Der Vater' during the festival weeks of Vienna. It became a sensation and Paulus continued to hire me for three summers in a play called 'Alma'. Alma Mahler-Werfel, the person in question, was a friend of my wife Lies, and as a consequence, I came to know her as well. She was a very intelligent, charming and amusing woman, quite a personality – and the best friend my wife could ever want. The fact that we knew each other personally is the reason that I appear in Manker’s production as a contemporary “witness”.

Alma Mahler, a great personage, was not only married to Mahler but also to Gropius and she had a famous relationship with Kokoschka. She had a great personality and a dressrehearsal at the Vienna State opera could not start before Alma was in the house. Some people in the society claimed they did not care for Alma, but they fought and scratched to say 'Hello' to her. Alma lived in Los Angeles in Beverly Hills, a neighbor of Bruno Walter. I had the privilege of being invited into her home for coffee or a Manhattan, but until to her very end Alma was a woman of a unique character. She lived one block from our home in Beverly hills and that's where the friendship between my wife and Alma started.

This life of Alma was dramatized by the Israeli author Joshua Sobol for whom I played in the fascinating production of 'Der Vater' during the Festival Weeks in Vienna.

In the year 1996 Klaus Maria Brandauer, a Burgtheater star, hired me to play the role of Tschang in the famous operetta 'The Land of Smiles' in the Vienna Volksoper."

Leon Askin at the age of 93 lives in a home for elderly people in the luxurious district of Döbling. He was honored by the President of Austria to become a professional Professor, meaning he received the title "Professor" not only as an honour but a professional title.

“At the end of my life, I have achieved belated fame and recognition in the city of my birth. In 1988, I was awarded the Austrian Cross of Honor for Science and Art; in 1994, I was presented with the Silver Cross of Honor and, in 2002, with the Gold Cross of Honor for service to the City of Vienna; in 1996, I was granted the honorary title of Professor by Minister Scholten; and in 2002, I was honored with the Austrian Cross of Honor, First Class, for Science and Art. This unexpected success and these honors have meant more to me than belated amends; they have prolonged my life, by giving my life new meaning and renewed security.”

Askin as an orthodox Jew"It is a great deal of difference to receive an honorary title or a title in his profession. 1988 I also received from the city of Vienna the cross of honour for art and science. These titles and the various honors mean a great deal to me, most of all for the reason that they would mean a great deal to my parents too. I know several Austrians and Germans who insisted and still insist not to make any contact with their former land of birth. Anton Kuh, a well known writer and journalist was once asked 'Where would you like to go back after the World War?' His answer is very important. He said to the immigration officer: 'Sir, you have asked me to which time I would like to return to my homeland. To answer that is the most extremely difficult answer for every emigrant. A return to the live, I lead before, is impossible.' "

In 2002, Leon Askin married the media specialist Anita Wicher.

Even at the age of 95 and counting, Leon continues to perform on stage.

"The journalists in Vienna and Austria and also in Germany call me a legend. I'm a man who lived through difficult times. I'm a man who survived the monster of all times, Adolf Hitler and I'm still, at my high old age of 93, successful in my profession and that is the pride with which I live and survive."