Nearly 75 years after being liberated from Auschwitz, 89-year-old Liliana Segre is under guard after receiving death threats and anti-Semitic messages among hundreds of social media posts over the past week.
Segre, an Italian life senator – an honor bestowed by the country’s president – came under fire after calling on parliament to establish a committee to combat the rise of hate, racism, and anti-Semitism on ethnic and religious grounds.
“I appealed to the conscience of everyone and thought that a commission against hatred as a principle would be accepted by all,” says Segre, Italy’s La Repubblica reports.
Italian Parliament approved her motion, but Italy’s right-wing parties noticeably abstained.
Anti-Semitism is on the rise in Italy, with the European Union’s Fundamental Rights Agency finding that “89% of Jews living in Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Germany, France, Hungary, Italy, The Netherlands, Poland, Spain, Sweden, and the UK feel anti-Semitism has increased in their country over the past decade, while 85% believed it to be a serious problem.”
This worrisome trend is seemingly spreading across Europe. Just this past week in Dresden, Germany the local government have declared a “Nazi emergency.” While last month in Halle, Germany a suspect live-streamed an attack on a synagogue.
In December of 1943 Segre and her father, Alberto, attempted to flee Milan for neutral Switzerland but were denied entry. A month later they were sent by train to the infamous Auschwitz death camp in Poland and immediately separated. That was the last time 13-year-old Lilliana was to see her father – he was executed the next day. Out of 776 Italian children under 15 who were deported to the death camp, only 35 survived the war.
Serge has spent the last few decades sharing her story, giving testimony on behalf of those who never lived to speak out against the horrors of the Holocaust, and for those who were never able to find the words.
Since the vote, Segre has reported receiving as many as 200 hate messages a day, some threats so severe that the prefect of Milan, Renato Saccone, ordered two paramilitary carabinieri officers to guard her.