Italian-Jewish Auschwitz Survivor Liliana Segre Targeted by Antisemites for Promoting COVID-19 Vaccinations
Liliana Segre — the 90 year-old Holocaust survivor and senator in the Italian parliament — received a slew of antisemitic comments this week after she issued a message encouraging older adults to vaccinate themselves against COVID-19.
Segre received the first of the two-shot vaccine in Milan last week. She urged people who reach her age “to not be afraid and to take the vaccine.”
“I’m not afraid of the vaccine, I’m afraid of the illness,” she said. “So, as a 90-year-old grandmother, I tell my ‘brothers’ and ‘sisters’ who reach this age to not be afraid and to take the vaccine.”
After Segre’s comments generated responses on social media laden with antisemitic invective, Italian Interior Minister Luciana Lamorgese expressed solidarity with her and denounced the “new and unacceptable attack” which he said was marked by “a very dangerous mix of hate, violence and racism.”
This is not the first time in recent years that Segre has been targeted by antisemites. In Nov. 2019, she was placed under police protection after she received hundreds of death threats on social media from far-right fanatics. On that occasion, the cause was Segre’s vocal backing for the creation of a parliamentary committee to combat racist and antisemitic hatred.
Born in Milan in 1930, Segre fled from Nazi persecution in Italy with her father in December 1943.
After failing to secure refuge in Switzerland, the pair were sent by train to the Auschwitz death camp in Nazi-occupied Poland the following month, where her father and grandparents were murdered.
Along with other Jewish prisoners transferred from Auschwitz in January 1945, Segre was taken to the Ravensbruck concentration camp in Germany.
Weeks later she was moved to another camp operated by the Nazis which was eventually liberated by the Soviet Red Army.
Segre was made an Italian senator for life by President Sergio Mattarella in January 2018.