Two men have been charged with fatally stabbing an 85-year-old French Jewish woman who survived the Holocaust – and Paris prosecutors say the death is being probed as an “anti-Semitic murder.”
Mireille Knoll, 85, who escaped a notorious roundup of Parisian Jews shipped off to Auschwitz, was found dead Friday with 11 stab wounds in her torched apartment in Paris’ eastern 11th district.
The public prosecutor’s department in Paris opened its probe into “a murder based on the assumption that the vulnerable victim belonged to a specific religion.”
“All the necessary means will be mobilized so that we will figure out the motivations of the authors of this barbaric act, which reminds us of the darkest hours of our history,” Interior Minister Gerard Collomb said, CNN reported. “To attack a Jew, it is to attack France and the values that establish the foundation of the nation.”
As a child in France during World War II, Knoll managed to escape the 1942 roundup of more than 13,000 Jews by fleeing with her mother to Portugal, Paris lawmaker Meyer Habib told Reuters.
Thousands of Jews were taken to the Velodrome d’Hiver cycling track that year and sent on to the Auschwitz concentration camp in Nazi-occupied Poland.
After the war, Kroll returned to the French capital and married a Holocaust survivor, who died in the early 2000s.
One of the men is a neighbor in his 20s whom Knoll knew well and who had visited her that day, Knoll’s son, who did not wish to be named, told Agence France-Presse.
The Paris street where two men allegedly murdered an 85-year-old Jewish woman.Getty Images
A police source told AFP that the suspect had convictions for rape and sexual assault.
The second suspect, 21 years old, has a history of violent robbery. He was in Knoll’s building on the day of her death, a police source said.
French President Emmanuel Macron has described Knoll’s killing as a “dreadful crime” on Twitter.
“I reaffirm my absolute determination to fight against anti-Semitism,” he said.
During an official visit to Israel, French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said “it was a very difficult and emotional moment for me. I had just completed my visit to Yad Vashem and I heard about the horror of the murder,” the Israeli news outlet Haaretz reported.
Yad Vashem is Israel’s official memorial to the victims of the Holocaust.
Knoll’s killing took place a year to the day after the murder of Sarah Halimi-Attal, 65, whose killing prosecutors believe was anti-Semitic. A neighbor threw her out the window of her Paris apartment while shouting “Allahu Akhbar!” — “God is greatest” in Arabic.
With Post wires