By Amanda Wicks
Gene Simmons may like showing off his big tongue, and he’s got a big mouth to go with it. In recent months, Simmons has said some especially controversial things regarding Prince’s death and the death of hip-hop, but in a new interview he switched gears and became extremely candid when it came to his mother’s experience during the Holocaust.
Simmons was born Chaim Witz in 1949. He and his mother immigrated to the United States from Israel when he was eight years old.
Speaking with Big Issue, Simmons discussed her traumatizing past with the Nazis. “My mother was 14 when she was in the concentration camp in Nazi Germany,” he said. “My father left us when I was about six. She, bless her—she continues to be a force—she never spoke about it.”
Even though his mother didn’t want to discuss what she’d been through, Simmons pushed forward by investigating what it was like. “I did my own research and found out just now terrible it was,” he said. “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. I’ve been to the Holocaust museum in Israel. 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.”
Simmons is known for being honest, sometimes to a fault, but this new interview shows a rare glimpse into the painful events that contributed to his family history.