An alleged mugger has been arrested after an attempt to steal the bag of a 90-year-old Holocaust survivor was foiled when the victim fought back.

Lillian Maduro, 49, was arrested Monday and charged with robbery and assault after allegedly attempting to steal the purse of nonagenarian Gina Zuckerman in Greenwich Village on 27 September.

Police said Maduro crept up behind Zuckerman and tried to snatch the bag from her cart while she was on the way to a senior centre.

Zuckerman was knocked down, but held onto the bag as her alleged assailant tried to wrest it from her grasp.

Police said that Maduro fled the scene and was arrested when DNA evidence linked her to the crime.

Zuckerman, who needed five stitches on her right arm, says her "inner lioness" came out when she was attacked.

Born in Poland, she survived six years in a Nazi labour camp during World War II.

At her arraignment Tuesday, Maduro's Legal Aid lawyer, Sarah Legler, said her client struggles with depression and mental illness.

She was ordered held on $50,000 bond or $25,000 cash bail, reported the New York Daily News.