Gene Simmons Opens Up About His Family’s Holocaust History
Gene Simmons is aware of his family's connection to the Holocaust, but only because of his own research. His mother, who was taken to a concentration camp in Nazi Germany as a teenager, still refuses to return to those awful days.
"She -- bless her, and she continues to be a force – she never spoke about it," the Kiss cofounder said in a new interview with The Big Issue. "I did my own research and found out just now terrible it was. I’ve tried to talk about it, but she just won’t do it. She saw her mother walk into the gas chambers. Her whole family was destroyed. My mother was the only one left alive. And she was 14."
Simmons -- who was born Chaim Witz to Flora Klein in Haifa, Israel -- in 1949, immigrated to New York City with his mother at age 8. His father Feri Witz had abandoned the family when the future Gene Simmons was about 6. "I’d never seen anything like it," Simmons said of America. "I’d never seen a television before."
It would be years later before Simmons learned of his Hungarian-born mother's ordeal, and that was through his own travels. "I can never unlock that door and bring up those memories," Flora Klein said in 2015. "Because if I did, I would go crazy and never come back."
Simmons finally found answers, back in his native country. "I've been to the Holocaust museum in Israel," Simmons told The Big Issue. "The Nazis kept detailed records of every name, and I saw my mother’s name at 14, listed as one of the passengers on the train."
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