Holocaust survivor was murdered by her neighbor who held anti-Semitic views
An elderly woman who once escaped the Nazis ended up murdered in her Paris home due to anti-Semitic sentiments. The body of Mireille Knoll, 85, was discovered on March 23 inside her 11th Arrondissement apartment. She was stabbed to death. The killer then tried to set fire to her apartment. As per the statement released by the Paris prosecutor, anti-Semitism was the motivation.
Two men have already been caught and jailed in this case. They were handed a list of preliminary charges which includes murder for anti-Semitic motives, robbery, and property damage. Francis Kalifat, President of CRIF, a Jewish group, said the elderly woman was stabbed a horrific 11 times.
Of the two men arrested for the attack, one of them is her neighbor, a man 27-years-old. He was previously incarcerated for sexual assault. He had attacked the daughter of the domestic helper who Knoll employed in her residence. The other attacker is a 21-year-old homeless man with a history of violence. The police have not released their names due to legal restrictions. Both of them are indicted on charges of voluntary homicide due to the supposed or even true religion of victim, and theft compounded by three circumstances. The last charge is degradation of others’ property through dangerous means.
Knoll’s death and the supposed motive behind her murder is beyond tragic as she escaped persecution during the Nazi occupation of France. She was a child in 1942, when the French police, who were then cooperating with the Germans, gathered up thousands of French Jews and gathered all of them into Velodrome d’Hiver, the cycling stadium. All of them were later slaughtered at Auschwitz. Knoll’s mother could only escape with her daughter as she was a citizen of Brazil.
For France, this horrific incident is the latest of many anti-Semitic crimes. Sarah Halimi, a Jewish elderly woman was murdered in 2017 by a man who shouted an Islamic chant prior to pushing her out of the window. The anger of French Jews towards this 2017 crime prompted the French authorities to swiftly classify the murder of Knoll as a hate crime. The 2017 crime was labeled anti-Semitic only after many months of legal struggles.
There have been marches in support of Mrs. Knoll and against anti-Semitism across France.