World Jewish News
'Munich Olympics Memorial was long overdue’
07.09.2017, Jews and Society
"The Olympic village became a place of Palestinian terrorists, a stage for their boundless hatred for Israel. It should never have happened,"said German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier as he unveiled a memorial for the 12 victims of the terrorist attack at the 1972 Olympics in Munich, together with his Israeli counterpart Reuven Rivlin.
The two presidents addressed the families of the 12 victims killed by Palestinian terrorists.
On September 5, 1972, eight members of the "Black September" terrorist group took Israeli athletes and coaches hostage at the Olympic Village in Munich, demanding the release of 234 prisoners jailed in Israel and the founders of the German Red Army Faction (RAF) being held in Germany. The hostage crisis resulted in the deaths of five Israeli athletes, six Israeli coaches and a German police officer after the demand of the Palestinian terrorists were denied.
During the ceremony, formerly Israel’s Consulate General to Munich, Tibi Schlosser read the names of the 11 Israeli victims of the attack, and members of the families unveiled a plaque in their memories. Moshe Weinberg, Yossef Romano, Yossef Gutfreund, Amitzur Shapira, Ze'ev Friedman, Eliezer Halfin, Andre Spitzer, Kehat Shorr, David Berger, Yakov Springer, and Mark Slavin.
In his address, Steinmeier said there were still "deep and painful wounds" 45 years after the terrorist attack occurred and a memorial commemorating the victims was long overdue.
"It is high time and we owe it firstly to you, the relatives," the German president said.
‘’Our history and the legacy of the Holocaust strengthen our responsibility towards the State of Israel and our burden in completely rejecting all forms of anti-Semitism. Germany is aware of its past and takes responsibility,’’ Steinmeier said.
The Minister-President of Bavaria, Horst Seehofer, said, ‘’This site is a requirement for us to work vigorously. To confront hatred, anti-Semitism, and terrorism aggressively and as united forces. We will not permit once again Jews and Israelis in our country to be subject to violence. Not from far-right extremism, anti-Semitism, and Islamist extremism in even the slightest form. You can feel at home here today and tomorrow, and this new site stands for that promise.’’
One of the victims' widows, Ankie Spitzer, had been campaigning for such a memorial for decades.
President Rivlin said the memorial and museum, located between the Olympic stadium and the Olympic village in Munich, came "45 years too late" for the victims.
"Relatives of the victims and the state of Israel waited almost half a century for this moment," he said. "Forty-five years have passed for an official Israeli delegation to return to this place. The Munich Olympics became the blood Olympics."
The Israeli president called for a minute of silence at the opening ceremony of the Oympic Games. IInternational Olympic Committee (IOC) President Thomas Bach also attended the ceremony.
Also attending the ceremony were surviving members of the Israeli delegation, and family members of those murdered in the massacre.
Ilona Romano, widow of victim Yossef Romano, said after the unveiling of the memorial, ‘’forty-five years have passed, and we all here know that terror targets the whole world. If we had only understood then that the murder in the Olympic Village would be terrorism’s opening shots at the whole world.’’