Liliana Segre: Auschwitz survivor gets police protection after social media attacks

7 November 2019, 17:32 | Updated: 7 November 2019, 18:29

An 89-year-old Auschwitz survivor has been given police protection after being attacked on social media.

Liliana Segre, who is a senator-for-life in Italy, recently revealed she receives up to 200 abuse messages a day.

Ms Segre, who was sent to the Auschwitz concentration camp in Nazi-occupied Poland at the age of 13, called last month for the creation of a parliamentary commission to investigate hate, racism and antisemitism.

Parliament approved her motion, but right wing parties abstained.

Since then the abuse has increased. This week, a neo-Nazi group put up a banner denouncing anti-fascism close to where Ms Segre was making a public appearance.

She has declined to comment on getting a police escort, while her chief of staff, Paola Gargiulo, said she "receives vastly more messages of support and solidarity than she does hate messages".

Ms Segre was deported from Italy to Auschwitz in 1944 - one of 776 Italian children under the age of 14 who were sent to the Nazi camp. Only 25 survived.

Her father and paternal grandparents were killed.

She has since recounted her experiences to young people, and was named a life-senator last year.

Israel's ambassador to Italy, Dror Eydar, said Ms Segre's police guard "symbolises the danger that Jewish communities still face in Europe today".

Government ministers also expressed concern. "Forgive us Liliana," tweeted Agriculture Minister Teresa Bellanova.

"The politics of hate will not stop your commitment, nor ours."

Antisemitism appears to be increasing in Italy, while being less pronounced than in Britain and France, according to the Centre of Contemporary Jewish Documentation (CDEC).

CDEC researcher Stefano Gatti said that until the beginning of November, 190 cases of antisemitism had been reported in Italy compared to 197 in all of 2018 and 130 in 2017.

Most were social media attacks and verbal insults, with two acts of minor violence registered this year.