Families of Israelis Killed at Munich Olympics Plan Anniversary Boycott

TEL AVIV — The households of the 11 Israeli athletes who have been killed by Palestinian militants at the 1972 Munich Olympics mentioned Wednesday that they intend to boycott a memorial ceremony deliberate in Germany in September to mark the fiftieth anniversary of the assault as a result of of a dispute with German authorities over compensation.

The resolution will put stress on the president of Israel, Yitzhak Herzog, who’s scheduled to attend the ceremony in Munich on Sept. 5, to additionally keep away, threatening an occasion aimed at therapeutic the injuries of an assault by the Black September terrorist group that shocked Israel and the world.

Germany’s dealing with of the terrorist assault, and its aftermath, stays one of probably the most divisive points between the 2 nations after the institution of full diplomatic relations between them in 1965 — a relationship already fraught by the Holocaust.

The households have lengthy fought for extra compensation for the killings of the athletes, and Israel has maintained that Germany did not adequately defend the athletes and lined up its failings earlier than and after the assault.

The assault befell on Sept. 5, 1972, when eight Palestinian militants jumped over the fence of the Munich Olympic Village, which was guarded by only a few German law enforcement officials, in keeping with an official report by the Israeli State archive. Only two of the officers have been armed. The militants entered the Israeli residence and killed two group members earlier than demanding the discharge of comrades imprisoned in Israel. Later, 9 different athletes have been killed, together with a German police officer, in a chaotic rescue try.

Ankie Spitzer, the consultant of the households in conferences with Mr. Herzog, mentioned that the households regarded the compensation supplied by Germany as “a joke” and that each one however one member deliberate to boycott the ceremony the place the fee was to be introduced.

The German authorities mentioned in an inner memo obtained by The New York Times that thus far the households have been paid a complete of 4.6 million euros, or about $4.8 million, by varied German companies. In a press release Wednesday, the German inside ministry mentioned that “confidential talks are currently underway with representatives of the victims’ families” however didn’t point out the boycott transfer.

“We expect President Herzog to also announce, immediately, that he is not coming,” mentioned Ms. Spitzer, who’s the widow of Andrei Spitzer, who was the coach of the Israeli fencing group. “If the families don’t travel, he shouldn’t travel either because if he is there, even to lay a wreath, it will legitimize this cruel German behavior.”

Mr. Herzog and President Frank-Walter Steinmeier of Germany had a sequence of cellphone calls with the households and the German inside ministry, which was answerable for developing with the compensation provide, in an unsuccessful effort to resolve the dispute, in keeping with the households and their legal professionals, an account backed by Israeli and German officers.

Germany is providing 5.4 million euros in complete in extra compensation to 23 remaining members of the family, in keeping with the federal government German memo. But legal professionals for the households say they’re looking for about 20 instances greater than that.

“The level of state responsibility of Germany, as we know it now, is far more extensive compared to the facts which were known in 1972-2020” mentioned Alexander Knoops, a lawyer for the households. “Ample evidence was recently discovered which shows that the Government not only failed in the protection of the athletes but was also instrumental in the cover up of its failure.”

The dispute over the compensation is a uncommon battle between Germany and Israel. Germany has labored laborious to be clear in its atonement for its Nazi previous, and to have a particular relationship with Israel. For instance, historically, Israel is one of the primary international journeys taken by new German presidents.

The resolution by the members of the family to boycott the occasion calls into query the participation within the ceremony of all the Israeli delegation of about 200 folks, which incorporates members of the Israeli Olympic Committee and Olympic medal-winning athletes, who’ve mentioned they’d not go to Munich with out the households.

Mr. Herzog has not but selected the difficulty and continues his efforts, along with the president of Germany, to resolve the case, in keeping with Israeli officers. A spokesman for the Israeli president declined to touch upon the difficulty.

Mrs. Spitzer, the consultant of the households, additionally mentioned Israel had not helped her or others during the last decade.

“Ties with Germany are very important and probably surpass everything else,” she mentioned. But, she added, it was time for Israel to “say publicly what everyone is saying quietly fearing to insult the Germans — it’s time to finally compensate the families of the victims for the terrible failures that led to the death of Andrei and the other 10 athletes, and for all the lies and cover-ups in the last 50 years.”

The prime minister of Israel at the time of the assault, Golda Meir, refused to barter with the militants however requested to ship a particular commando unit to free the athletes however Germany refused, an account confirmed by German officers in a 2012 documentary. Israel demanded that the Games be stopped — however this request was additionally declined.

The head of Israeli intelligence, the Mossad, mentioned he was solely allowed to look at the rescue operation, and that each one his proposals had been rejected by the Germans.

“They didn’t make a minimal effort to save lives, they didn’t take a minimal risk to try to save people, neither theirs nor ours,” the Mossad head, Zvi Zamir advised authorities ministers when he returned to Israel, in keeping with a transcript of the assembly obtained by The New York Times.

The households of the victims have lengthy accused German authorities of hiding paperwork from them and creating bureaucratic difficulties in order that they’d not get entry to the archives and obtain monetary compensation.

Recently declassified paperwork revealed within the German media present that German intelligence had warnings of an imminent motion towards the Olympics, however did nothing.

In the center of August 1972, the German Embassy in Beirut despatched an pressing telegram to the international ministry in Bonn alerting it of an assault. The telegram was first revealed in July by the Süddeutsche Zeitung.

According to an inner German authorities memorandum obtained by The New York Times, the purpose of the ceremony on Sept. 5 was to confront the “questions of historical reckoning that remain unresolved.” The inside ministry assertion mentioned Germany seen the ceremony as “an occasion for a clear political analysis of the events of 1972.”

As half of that effort, Germany plans to ascertain a German-Israeli historical past fee, with full entry to all information, “to scrutinize all available sources” and provide you with a “scholarly account and assessment of the events.” President Steinmeier additionally deliberate to acknowledge the accountability of Germany for the dealing with of the phobia assault, and announce the extra compensation for the sufferer’s households.

“Through these actions, the Federal Republic of Germany is fulfilling its moral and historical obligation to the victims and their surviving family members” the memo concludes.

Christopher F. Schuetze contributed reporting from Hanover, Germany.


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