Mireille Knoll, an 85-year-old, escaped a roundup of Jews during World War II with her mother, as French police collaborated with Nazi Germany.
She was found dead in her apartment in Paris on Friday, with attackers also suspected of trying to burn her home.
Prosecutors in the French capital said Monday that two men had been arrested and that Knoll’s Jewish faith was believed to be a motive in the crime, along with robbery.
#Crif #Rassemblement – Suite au meurtre odieux de Mireille Knoll, une femme Juive de 85 ans, à son domicile à Paris, le Crif appelle à une marche blanche en sa mémoire et en soutien à sa famille. Cette marche blanche sera l'expression de la compassion de tous les Français. pic.twitter.com/kVHQvQRjAm
— CRIF (@Le_CRIF) March 26, 2018
Reports said that one of the men, both in their 20s, was a neighbor, and the Jewish Community Protection Service said in a statement that one had previously made threats against the octogenarian.
Two of the victim’s grandchildren said that the neighbor was Muslim and was well-known to their loved one, and added that the fires set had destroyed pictures and other memories they may have had of their grandmother.
“All we have left are our tears and each other,” Noa Goldfarb, who used to live in Paris before moving to Israel, wrote on Facebook in Hebrew.
The Jewish community in France is the largest in Western Europe, but has in recent years seen a rise in reported anti-Semitism, including an attack on a Jewish grocery store during the Charlie Hebdo attacks, the murder of an elderly Jewish woman last year and two Jewish children beaten in the suburb of Sarcelles, known as “Little Jerusalem.”
Knoll’s death, discovered the same day that a gunman claimed by the Islamic State killed four people including a police officer who exchanged himself for a hostage, has sparked widespread condemnation of religious hatred.
French President Emmanuel Macron said that he was emotional after the “appalling crime” and vowed to fight anti-Semitism, which France’s Chief Rabbi Haim Korsia said Monday was robbing the country’s Jews of “a human face.”
The Representative Council of Jewish Institutions of France called for a “white march” in Knoll’s memory on Wednesday as an expression of compassion not just from the Jewish community, but from all of France.
On – 27 Mar, 2018 By Christopher Brennan