She Survived the Holocaust, to Die in a 2018 Hate Crime
By ADAM NOSSITER
MARCH 26, 2018
PARIS — 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 the woman, Mireille Knoll, was found on Friday in her
apartment in the city’s working-class 11th Arrondissement. 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.
Ms. Knoll’s mother, summoned to the stadium like other Parisian Jews,
was able to escape at the last minute with her daughter because she had
a Brazilian passport, said Meyer Habib, a member of Parliament who has
spoken with one of Ms. Knoll’s sons.
Francis Kalifat, the head of the Representative Council of Jewish
Institutions of France, said: “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
Interior Minister Gérard Collomb said that “to attack a Jew is to
attack France, and the values that are the very basis of the nation.”
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
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.
Other anti-Semitic crimes that have rattled France include the 2015
attack on a kosher supermarket in Paris by Amedy Coulibaly, a heavily
armed Frenchman, who killed four people, and the 2012 assault on a
Jewish school in Toulouse by Mohammed Merah, who killed three children
and a teacher after killing three soldiers.
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. “One of them
had known her for a long time,” Mr. Kalifat said. “He had friendly
relations with her.”