An 85-year-old woman who as a child narrowly escaped France’s most notorious wartime roundup of Jews has been murdered in Paris, and the authorities are calling it a hate crime.
The body of Holocaust survivor Mireille Knoll was found on Friday in her apartment in Paris. She had been stabbed to death, and her body was partly burned after her attackers apparently tried to set fire to the apartment.
The Paris prosecutor’s office said on Monday that Ms. Knoll had been killed because of the “membership, real or supposed, of the victim of a particular religion” — a roundabout way of saying she was killed because she was Jewish.
Ms. Knoll was a child in Paris when, in the summer of 1942, the French police, cooperating with the Germans, rounded up thousands of the city’s Jews, stuffing them into a cycling stadium, the Vélodrome d’Hiver. Virtually all were subsequently murdered at Auschwitz.
“This makes one feel something absolutely terrible. She escaped the anti-Semitism of the Nazis, but in the end her destiny followed her because she was killed because of anti-Semitism,” said Francis Kalifat, the head of the Representative Council of Jewish Institutions of France.
A number of anti-Semitic episodes have shaken France, including the murder last year of Sarah Halimi, an elderly Jewish woman, by a man of Malian origin who shouted, “God is great” before throwing her out a window.
The speed with which the authorities recognized the hate-crime nature of Ms. Knoll’s murder is being seen as a reaction to the anger of France’s Jews at the official response to that earlier crime, which prosecutors took months to characterize as anti-Semitic.
Excruciating and ignominious#MireilleKnoll, who escaped #VeldHiv Nazi round-up in 1942, #Holocaust survivor, assassinated in Paris.
Her apartment was burnt after the crime.
She was 85.
Public prosecutor said it was an #antiSemitic crime.
There should be no forgiveness. pic.twitter.com/36K3CZMt8c
— Nicolas Tenzer (@NTenzer) March 26, 2018
By Monday, two suspects had been arrested in the murder of Ms. Knoll: both young men in their 20s, one of whom was a neighbor.
The Paris prosecutor’s office declined to characterize the origins of the two people; Mr. Kalifat said the principal suspect was of North African origin.
Story sourced from The New York Times
Compiled by Lavanya Narayanan