Kiss star Gene Simmons has opened up about his mother’s release from a Nazi concentration camp after her official papers were unearthed in Germany.
Bild reporters obtained the documents and recently showed them to the rock star 75 years after American troops liberated the Mauthausen camp on 5 May, 1945 – three days before the official end of World War II.
Gene’s mother, Flora Klein, was the only member of her family to survive at the camp. She died in 2018, aged 93.
“She was strong,” he says. “She fought all of this on her own… If somebody says that all of this was in the past – that’s not true. It was yesterday. It all happened just now.”
The documents also featured a victim impact statement Klein wrote, revealing she and her family members were ordered to leave their home in Budapest, Hungary, and she found herself working at the concentration camp in Ravensbruck, living in a hut “surrounded by barbed wire and guarded by the SS.”
She was moved to another camp in early 1945 and then on to Mauthausen on an overcrowded train carriage.
In 1949, Klein moved to Israel and then to the U.S. – when her son, real name Chaim Weitz, was eight.
Reading the documents in an article to mark the 75th anniversary of the liberation, Simmons pointed out his grandmother’s name and said, “My mother told me that they drove the old people into the gas chambers first. My mother spoke of her last conversation with her mother. They touched each other’s hand, and then – gas chamber.”
Simmons claims his mother survived the camp because she knew how to cut hair: “When she was a 12-year-old girl, she came to a hairdresser and learned how to cut hair. The SS commander’s wife needed someone to do her hair. She asked several girls, ‘Do you speak German?’ The girls raised their hands and said yes. Whoever raised their hand was sent to the gas chamber. My mother spoke a little German, but she didn’t say so. That was the reason for why she was chosen. When she was doing the hair, the commander’s wife thought she wouldn’t understand anything. But she did.”