French Holocaust survivor Simone Veil dies at 89

French Holocaust survivor Simone Veil dies at 89

French Holocaust survivor Simone Veil dies at 89

Her death was confirmed on social media by current French president, Emmanuel Macron.

Veil, a lawyer by education, served as minister of health under the center-right government of Valery Giscard d'Estaing and later as president of the European Parliament, as well as a member of the Constitutional Council of France.

Born Simone Jacob, Veil was sent to the Nazi concentration camp at Auschwitz in the last months of the war, when she was just 17, and lost her parents and brother to deportation.

"May her example inspire our fellow countrymen, who will find in her the best of France", Macron said in a message to the family. Although she faced adversity for pushing for legalization, the Loi Veil, as it is known, is considered one of the biggest achievements for both women's rights and secularism in France. She published a best-selling autobiography in 2007 titled "A Life".

German Chancellor Angela Merkel hailed Veil, saying she had been "committed for several decades and with great energy to the process of European unification". The following year, she was admitted to the Academie Francaise - a highly prestigious institution comprising individuals, often philosophers and writers, recognized for scholarly excellence.

In 1979, she was the first person to be elected president of the European Parliament in a direct vote of lawmakers.

In her other public service roles, including as an official in the Justice Ministry, Veil drafted legislation that aided people with disabilities and disadvantaged children; barred discrimination; improved living conditions for female prisoners; and expanded health benefits.

Polls consistently showed her to be one of France's most popular and trusted figures.

It was while in that post that she pushed for the so-called "Veil Law", which decriminalised abortion in France.

She also frequently took part in World War II commemorations and spoke out against the far-right National Front (FN).

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