Kiss frontman visits family grave thanks to two German journalists

Mike Cohen
4 min readJul 10, 2023

Jewish Telegraph, July 2023

EMOTIONAL: Paul Stanley visits the Jewish cemetery in Berlin-Weißensee. Below, Bild am Sonntag journalists Hans-Wilhelm Saure, right, and Sven Kuschel present their findings to the Kiss frontman. Pictures: Wolf Lux/BILD

TWO German journalists spent four years researching the family of Jewish rock star Paul Stanley.
And Bild am Sonntag journalists Hans-Wilhelm Saure and Sven Kuschel were able to present their findings to the Kiss frontman when the legendary band performed in Berlin last month.
In addition, they took Stanley, who was born Stanley Eisen in Manhattan in 1952, to the Jewish cemetery in Berlin-Weißensee where his great-grandfather Bernhard Kasket is buried.
The inscription on the gravestone reads: “Here rests my much beloved husband, our thoroughly good father and grandfather, Bernhard Kasket.”
Stanley tidied up the overgrown grave during his visit.
Kasket was 53 when he died in 1924 — less than two months after the birth of his granddaughter Eva, Stanley’s mother.
Stanley’s journey to the cemetery began four years ago when he asked aure and Kuschel to trace his family — as they had done for fellow Kiss frontman Gene Simmons.
Stanley told the pair: “My mother is from Berlin. She talked about Jockemsteeler Street. Unfortunately, I know so little about her time in Germany. Could you help me?”
“It was a surprise, at the same time a great leap of faith and an honour when Paul Stanley asked us for help,” the journalists told the Jewish Telegraph.
“We had presented details unknown to him about the history of Gene Simmons’ mother Flora Klein in an intensive research.”
They continued: “At the beginning, we only had his mother’s name and an address that he could remember.
“Eva Eisen had already passed away at that time. The research became a big puzzle in different archives. It dragged on for four years.
“We found new traces, names of relatives, but also often ended up in dead ends.
“But over months and finally even years, we were able to reconstruct the history of his Berlin relatives more precisely, in order to present him with the results and translations of the stories of his ancestors.”
They discovered that Stanley had misheard Joachimsthaler Straße. and that his family had barely managed to escape being arrested by the Nazis at the end of 1935.
The Kasket family lived in Berlin-Mitte where Bernhard owned a ladieswear workshop.
After his death, his widow Ida moved to the Berlin district of Charlottenburg with her son Günther and opened a guesthouse in Joachimsthaler Straße.
Stanley’s mother lived nearby with her parents Berthy and Erich, who divorced.
Documents showed that Berthy’s second husband, Joseph Mandl, was almost beaten to death by SA men in April, 1934.
Stanley remembered Mandl, saying: “He was a sophisticated man. Later, I learned a lot from him. He was cultivated.
“In the US, he taught me to eat with chopsticks, long before Asian food became popular. His apartment was full of books.”
Mandl, Berthy and 12-year-old Eva fled Berlin in November 1935 after being warned they were on a Gestapo list to be deported.
They fled to Prague by train, then to Amsterdam, before finally heading to America after “four grief-stricken years in Holland,” according to Eva, who died in 2012.
Ida died in 1957, on her 90th birthday.
While in the German capital, Stanley visited places where relatives used to live, along with the two journalists and Ilan Kiesling, of the Berlin Jewish community.
“They took everything from us. But they could not destroy this family,” he said.
“Paul took the time after his last Berlin concert to go in search of traces with us,” Saure and Kuschel said.
“Together with him, it also led us to the grave of his great-grandfather at the Jewish cemetery in Berlin-Weißensee.
“It was a very emotional visit for all involved. Paul Stanley was grateful to be able to make a statement against forgetting with this story.
“He was very moved by the insights and the return to his roots. He has announced his intention to return to Berlin in the future with his children to pass on the story.
“Possibly we can present him then still further research results. We continue to take care of this story.”
Kiss continue their final world tour in Manchester tonight and Glasgow tomorrow night.

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Mike Cohen

Jewish Telegraph deputy editor and arts editor. Email Mcohen@jewishtelegraph.com with your Jewish arts stories