Jewish grandmother murdered in Paris home ‘didn’t believe in evil’
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Jewish grandmother murdered in Paris home ‘didn’t believe in evil’

Granddaughter says Holocaust survivor Mireille Knoll was 'in contact with many friends of all religions'; a neighbor and accomplice have been charged in anti-Semitic slaying

A man stands in front of a picture of Mireille Knoll and a message announcing a "Marche Blanche" condemning the alleged anti-Semitic motive for of her killing, placed on the fence surrounding her building in Paris on March 27, 2018, after she was found dead in her apartment on March 23 by firefighters called to extinguish a blaze.
Two people have been charged with the murder of an 85-year-old French Jewish woman, who was stabbed and whose body was then set alight in a crime being treated as anti-Semitic, a judicial source said on March 27, 2018. ( AFP PHOTO / Lionel BONAVENTURE)
A man stands in front of a picture of Mireille Knoll and a message announcing a "Marche Blanche" condemning the alleged anti-Semitic motive for of her killing, placed on the fence surrounding her building in Paris on March 27, 2018, after she was found dead in her apartment on March 23 by firefighters called to extinguish a blaze. Two people have been charged with the murder of an 85-year-old French Jewish woman, who was stabbed and whose body was then set alight in a crime being treated as anti-Semitic, a judicial source said on March 27, 2018. ( AFP PHOTO / Lionel BONAVENTURE)

PARIS —   A Jewish grandmother found murdered in her Paris apartment was an “admirable woman” who had escaped the Nazi round-up of Jews in the city more than 70 years ago, her family said.

The stabbed and charred body of Mireille Knoll, 85, was found on Friday by firefighters called to extinguish a blaze.

“My grandmother was an admirable woman, very gentle, very sweet. She was full of joy, she loved life,” her granddaughter Noa Goldfarb told AFP.

“She didn’t believe in evil in people, maybe she was a little naive.”

Her anguished son, Daniel Knoll, said she had been stabbed 11 times.

“I thought I was going to die on the spot. I cried all the tears in my body and I thought of her. She didn’t deserve this,” Knoll told The Associated Press Tuesday, near the Paris public housing project his mother called home for most of her life.

“How can one do that to anybody? The police revealed she was stabbed 11 times.”

In July 1942 the young Mireille managed to flee Nazi-occupied Paris with her mother, before the Vel d’Hiv mass round-up of 13,000 Jews, and cross the border into Portugal on a Brazilian passport obtained by her father.

“The soldiers looked at the passports and finally decided to let them in,” her son Daniel told i24 News.

 

A picture taken on March 27, 2018 shows a picture of Mireille Knoll, heart-shaped documents and seals of the police posted on the door of her apartment in Paris after she was found murdered in her apartment on March 23 by firefighters called to extinguish a blaze.
on March 27, 2018. (AFP PHOTO / Lionel BONAVENTURE)

After the war she married an Auschwitz survivor and moved to Canada before returning to Paris.

The couple raised two sons and her late husband ran a raincoat workshop in the Jewish district of Sentier.

“She was never afraid,” said her granddaughter, describing Mireille as “French through-and-through.”

Mireille Knoll, 85, a Holocaust survivor who was found murdered in her Paris apartment (Courtesy)

Although not practicing, she was “Jewish at heart”, living a modest and open life “in contact with many friends of all religions.

But following the blaze at her apartment, “there was nothing left, no photo album, not of her or Saba (grandfather in Hebrew), nothing.

Mireille, who suffered from Parkinson’s disease according to her son, lived alone in her second-floor apartment and only came out in her wheelchair accompanied by a caregiver.

Over the years her grandchildren and other French Jews moved to Israel, but Knoll stayed in her beloved Paris, living nearly her whole life in the modest apartment on Avenue Philippe Auguste.

“There was nothing to steal. My mother was poor,” her son said. “Her credit card? She would have only been able to withdraw 100 euros. She had no money on her account.”

Authorities have not released the names of the two men in custody but have said the chief suspect is a 29-year-old with a past conviction who lived in the same building.

Daniel Knoll said the suspect had lived there since he was 7. His mother “took pleasure in having him at home and … although we’d asked her not to welcome him, she let him in like she always did, the same way she did with everybody, with kindness,” he said.

This photo provided by Daniel Knoll Tuesday March 27, 2018 shows Mireille Knoll, center, with her son Daniel and grand daughter Jessica. Mireille Knoll, 85, was killed Friday in her apartment, which was then set on fire, according to a French judicial official. Francis Kalifat, president of the Jewish group CRIF, said Knoll was stabbed 11 times. (Daniel Knoll via AP)

“My mother had a thirst for knowledge and meeting new people and talking to them and that’s what killed her,” he said.

Daniel Knoll remembered his mother as talkative and vivacious. In a home video she could be seen raising a glass and declaring, “Lechaim!” — “to life!” in Hebrew.

When she could still walk, he said, “she was going to restaurants, to theaters, to cinemas to see movies. She likes so much to read, she likes life so much. All those people who know war, they like life, maybe more than these crazy people” who killed her.

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