Gene Simmons Shown Mom’s Nazi Victim Statement
Gene Simmons was shown documents relating to his mother’s release from a Nazi concentration camp 75 years after it happened, including the victim impact statement she wrote.
Flora Klein was 19 when American troops liberated the Mauthausen camp on May 5, 1945, three days before the end of World War II in Europe. She and her Jewish family had been subject to Nazi Germany’s attempts to wipe out her race; she was the only member of her family to survive. She died at 93 in 2018.
Simmons' reaction to the documents, discovered by Bild, was revealed to mark the anniversary. “She was strong," the Kiss icon said as he shed tears from time to time. "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. When you see what recently happened at many elections, that's not good.”
In the impact statement, Klein wrote that, after her family was ordered to leave its home in Budapest, Hungary, she was sent to a “Yellow House” to live in 1944. She was later moved to the concentration camp in Ravensbruck, where she was put to work gathering potatoes and living in a hut “surrounded by barbed wire and guarded by the SS.” In January 1945, she was moved to another camp, and then on to Mauthausen in a journey of forced marching and overcrowded train carriages, during which many of her fellow victims died. In 1949, Klein was awarded a compensation payment, and moved to Israel and then to the U.S., by which time Simmons was eight years old.
Reading the documents, Simmons pointed out his grandmother’s name. “My mother told me that they drove the old people into the gas chambers first," he said. "My mother spoke of her last conversation with her mother. They touched each other's hand, and then – gas chamber.”
He added that his mom "told me why she had survived. 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.”
Simmons noted that "it can happen again and again. That's why you have to talk about everything. … As long as you talk about things, there is a chance. When you see cockroaches in the kitchen, you must point the light at them so you can see them clearly. And you must drive them out of the light.”
After Bild presented their dossier to Simmons, his Kiss bandmate Paul Stanley asked the paper to help him discover more about his own mom, who escaped from Nazi persecution in Berlin in 1935 as a girl. Documents recovered by the paper told how she and her parents abandoned their belongings late one night after being told the Gestapo (secret police) was going to arrest them the next day.
“We drove to the Anhalter Bahnhof train station, where the car was simply left behind, just like the apartment and everything that was in it,” Stanley’s grandfather wrote in his victim impact statement. “In order to remain inconspicuous, we chose the slowest train via Dresden to the Czech border at Tetschen-Bodenbach. Wife and child were seated in a third-class compartment. I myself sat down in an adjacent compartment.”
The family reached the Netherlands in 1936 and eventually the U.S. in 1940. Stanley’s mom, Eva, died in 2012.