Italian Holocaust survivor under police guard in wake of threats

Liliana Segre, an Auschwitz survivor, has received up to 200 hate messages a day.

Sara Rubenstein ,

Italian police (archive image)
Italian police (archive image)

Liliana Segre, a 89-year-old survivor of the Auschwitz concentration camp, is under police protection after receiving numerous anti-Semitic threats, a BBC report said.

Segre, who is an Italian life senator, called for parliament to establish a committee to combat anti-Semitism, racism and incitement to hatred and violence on ethnic and religious grounds due to the numerous hate messages she receives on social media every day.

The motion was passed but far-right and center-right parties abstained from the vote, which caused a controversy which increased the threats to Segre.

Following the vote, Segre said that the abstentions made her feel "like a Martian in the Senate. I appealed to the conscience of everyone and thought that a commission against hatred as a principle would be accepted by all."

In light of the numerous threats, the prefect of Milan, Renato Saccone, met with the committee for security and public order on Wednesday and it was decided that Segre should receive police protection. She will be accompanied in public by two paramilitary carabinieri officers.

Additionally, the Milan public prosecutor's office began an investigation into the hate messages and has contacted Italy's anti-terrorism police unit for assistance.

The Milan-based Centre of Contemporary Jewish Document's Observatory on Anti-Jewish Prejudice says that anti-Semitism is increasing in Italy, especially online, according to an Associated Press report.

Segre was born in Milan and was deported to Auschwitz in January 1944 when she was 13. Her father and paternal grandparents met their deaths in Auschwitz. (Segre's mother died when she was a baby.)

In January 1945, she endured a death march to Ravensbrück concentration camp in Germany. After a few weeks there, she was marched to its satellite Malchow concentration camp. There she was liberated by the Russian Army on May 1, 1945.

There were 776 Italian children aged 14 or under who were deported to Auschwitz, of which only 35 survived.