‘How Could They Have Murdered This Angel?’: Son of Murdered Holocaust Survivor Mireille Knoll Delivers Impassioned Testimony at Trial of Accused Antisemitic Killers
Relatives and friends of Mireille Knoll — the 85-year-old French Holocaust survivor robbed and stabbed to death in a brutal antisemitic assault in 2018 — described her as an “angel” and a “deeply loving mother” during the third day of the criminal trial of her accused killers in Paris.
Among those giving testimony at the trial of 32-year-old Yacine Mihoub and 25-year-old Alex Carrimbacus was Mireille Knoll’s son, Daniel. In calm, measured tones, he delivered a deeply personal tribute to his late mother, challenging the accused to finally tell the truth about her murder.
A grandmother who lived alone in an apartment in the 11th arrondissement of Paris, Knoll had known Mihoub, who lived with his family in the same public housing project, since his childhood. On March 23, 2018, Mihoub, who would often visit Knoll without prior notice, arrived at her apartment with Carrimbacus, whom he befriended in prison. During the visit, which began with the pair drinking glasses of port wine, Knoll, who suffered from Parkinson’s Disease, was stabbed 11 times and her apartment set alight. Since their arrest by police in the days following the murder, Mihoub and Carrimbacus have continued to pin the blame on the other for the frenzied stabbing of Knoll with a knife.
At Thursday’s court proceedings, Daniel Knoll said that he still did not understand why “these two people, these monsters, murdered this angel,” indicating the two defendants.
Referring to Mihoub, he added: “She received this man, this neighbor, in her home. How could he have conceived of such an abominable murder?”
Mihoub and Carrimbacus are facing charges of murder aggravated by antisemitism, based on the conclusion of investigators that the two had targeted Knoll for a robbery based on the antisemitic belief that all Jews are wealthy. But as Daniel Knoll pointed out in court, his mother received a small monthly income of 800 euros — about $900 — that included her housing allowance.
“He’d known her since the age of eight, and he knew that my mom had nothing to steal,” Daniel Knoll said, pointedly declining to look in Mihoub’s direction.
He became emotional when recalling that firefighters who answered an emergency call at his mother’s apartment following her murder discovered her partially-burned body — a fate, Daniel Knoll said, that was reminiscent of the burning of victims’ corpses in Nazi concentration camps. As a nine-year-old child in 1942, his mother had survived the notorious “Vel d’Hiv” round-up, when French police officers attached to the Vichy collaborator regime organized the deportation of 13,000 Jews to the Auschwitz concentration camp.
“Imagine, for us, that fire, it makes one think of the concentration camps,” Daniel Knoll said, his voice breaking.
The trial of Mihoub and Carrimbacus continues until Nov. 10 at the Court of Assizes in Paris. The proceedings are being anxiously observed within the French Jewish community, which remains mindful of the shock decision earlier this year of France’s highest court to excuse from criminal trial the man accused of the antisemitic murder in 2017 of Sarah Halimi — a 65-year-old Jewish woman whose life was taken, as with Mireille Knoll, in her own home.