PARIS, France – Dozens of people gathered at the Holocaust memorial in Paris on Friday to pay their respects to former president of the European Parliament and leading feminist figure Simone Veil on the anniversary of her death.
Her coffin, draped in the French tricolor, was laid out next to that of her husband Antoine Veil (1926-2013).
Simone Veil, born in Nice in 1927, was Jewish and as a teenager survived the Nazi death camp Auschwitz during the Holocaust in World War II. Many of her relatives, including her parents and brother, did not survive.
Upon her return to France, she worked as a high-level civil servant in the justice ministry and later became health minister in 1974, a position she used to push for the decriminalization of abortion in France.
Between 1979-1982, she was the president of the European Parliament, whose members had for the first time been elected by universal suffrage.
From 1998-2007, she was a member of the constitutional council, the highest such authority in the country which is in charge of making sure proposed statutes adhere to the Constitution.
She received many awards and honors for her work, including an honorary Damehood from the British government, the Princess of Asturias Award in International Cooperation and the Grand Cross of the Légion d’honneur.
Current French President Emmanuel Macron has announced plans to bury Veil at the Pantheon.
She died on June 30, 2017.