By Hellen Zaboulani
Israeli-born rock singer, Gene Simmons, says his mother barely ever spoke of her experiences in the holocaust and the Nazi Concentration camps. In time for Yom Shoah or Holocaust Remembrance Day, a German newspaper has provided him with much documentation about her ordeal in the holocaust, as reported by the Jerusalem Post.
Simmons, the now 70-year-old heavy metal singer, songwriter, record producer, and television personality was born as Chaim Witz in Haifa. His mother was Florence Klein, a survivor of the Nazi Concentration Camps, and his father, Ferenc “Feri” Yehiel Witz, was a carpenter. He has said that in his youth his family was “dirt poor”. He moved to New York City with his mother when he was 9 years-old, after his parents divorced. After college he joined several bands, the final of which was Kiss, in which he was the band’s front man, as well as its most outspoken member.
His mother has since passed away, at the age of 93, in the United States. She had been 19-years-old when American troops had liberated the Mauthausen camp on May 5, 1945. The newspaper, Bild am Sonntag presented Simmons with 100 pages of information concerning his mother’s time in the holocaust, including her impact statement, just in time for the 75th anniversary of her liberation.
In her statement to the former Restitution Office in Koblenz, Klein had written: “In November 1944, I was brought to the Ravensbruck concentration camp. I lived there in block no. 21 and worked in the fields, gathering potatoes outside the camp. I wore old civilian clothes with a white oil (paint) cross painted on the back, in a camp surrounded by barbed wire and guarded by the SS.” Klein got transferred to the Venusberg subcamp of the Flossenburg concentration camp in January 1945. She had arrived at Mauthausen that March.
“She was strong,” Simmons said in an interview with Bild, published on Sunday, as he read over the documents. “She fought all of this on her own.” Among the documents he received, was his grandmother’s name, Ester Blau, and that she died in the Nazi gas chambers.
Simmons took the initiative to speak about the holocaust, warning that people should not forget what happened. “It can happen again and again. That’s why you have to talk about everything,” he said. “When Jews are advised to no longer wear the kippah on the streets. At least this is being addressed. The same applies to the Muslims. 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.”