Simone Veil, who died this week at 89, survived the horrors of the Holocaust—including losing her family—to become one of France’s pioneering politicians, a spearhead of the first law decriminalizing abortion in the country since the Napoleonic era.
How did she make a life, a family and a career as an activist and leader after enduring what she did? She credited her mother, who died of Typhus before the liberation of Auschwitz, as a guiding light. “I’m often asked what gave me the strength and will to continue the fight,” the New York Times quotes her as saying. “I believe deeply that it was my mother; she has never stopped being present to me, next to me.”
This week, after her passing, she became one of only a handful of women buried in the Pantheon in Paris. Her life’s work was praised by generations of French politicians and she remained beloved by the country’s population.
Watch Kveller’s video about Veil’s story now: