Rivlin heads to Munich to unveil monument to murdered Israeli athletes

11 murdered Israeli athletes were brutally murdered during the 1972 Munich Olympics by terrorist organization Black September.

September 5, 2017 07:31
3 minute read.
Rivlin heads to Munich to unveil monument to murdered Israeli athletes

A DEPICTION of the Munich Massacre memorial at Olympic Park in Bavaria to honor of the 11 Israeli athletes, coaches and the German police officer killed in a terrorist attack during the 1972 Games.. (photo credit: BRÜCKNER & BRÜCKNER)

President Reuven Rivlin is due to leave for Munich on Tuesday evening for the inauguration of the long overdue monument in memory of the Israeli athletes who were brutally murdered and cruelly dismembered during the 1972 Munich Olympics by terrorist organization Black September.

Rivlin’s departure coincides with the 45th anniversary of the September 5 attack on the Israeli section of the Olympic Village.

The 11 murdered Israeli athletes were wrestling coach Moshe Weinberg, weightlifters Yossef Romano, Ze’ev Friedman and David Berger, weightlifting judge Yaakov Springer, wrestlers Eliezer Halfin and Mark Slavin, wrestling referee Yosef Gutfreund, shooting coach Kehat Shorr, fencing coach Andre Spitzer and track coach Amitzur Shapira.

Rivlin who will unveil the monument together with German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier said he was honored to join the German president in paying tribute to the proud Israeli sportsmen who were murdered in cold blood. He sees the monument, which is located at the Olympic Park and is a meeting center carved like an open wound into the hillside, as a warning symbol of the danger of hatred and the brutality of terrorists. He also regards it as a declaration that perpetrators and supporters of terrorism will pay for their crime.

At the unveiling and subsequent ceremony, participants will be addressed by Steinmeier, Rivlin, Bavarian President Horst Seehofer, Bavaria’s Minister of Culture Ludwig Spaenle who has overseen the project, Munich Mayor Dieter Reiter, President of the International Olympic Community Thomas Bach, as well as Ilana Romano and Ankie Spitzer, widows of two of the victims.

After the ceremony, Rivlin and his wife, Nechama, together with Steinmeier and his wife, Elke Budenbender, Seehofer and his wife, Karin, will meet with the families of the victims.

Other Bavarian dignitaries are also scheduled to attend the meeting.

The families have been involved in a fruitless, decades-long struggle to have the International Olympic Committee approve a minute’s silence for the slain athletes at the start of the Olympic Games which takes.

Ilana Romano and Ankie Spitzer, have been in the forefront of efforts to have the victims remembered outside of Israel and particularly in Germany which has been an uphill struggle all the way.

Not all Germans were sympathetic to their tragedy and their grief.

Some even accused Israel of bringing its conflict with the Palestinians onto German soil.

Even after approval was given for the monument, there were objections by residents of the area – it seemed that nothing related to Israel could win wholehearted approval and support.

Following the ceremony, which will also be attended by Israel’s newly installed ambassador to Germany Jeremy Issacharoff, Rivlin will fly to Berlin for a meeting with Chancellor Ursula Merkel towards the tail end of her election campaign for a fourth term in office.

It’s anticipated their discussion will include some form of clarification on the issue of the German submarines acquired by Israel, as well as the resurgence of neo-Nazis and racism in Germany, and of course the threat posed to Israel by the Iranian presence in Syria.

German Ambassador Clemens von Goetze told The Jerusalem Post that he will not accompany Rivlin “because this is not a state visit.”

Despite the trauma of Munich, an Israeli record set there remained unbroken for 42 years by track and field athlete Esther Roth-Shahamorov who ran the 100 m. sprint in 11.45 seconds. It was not until 2014 that the record was broken by Olga Lansky who ran the 100 m. dash in 0:11.42. However, Lansky’s record was later disqualified after she was tested positive for drugs.

Tuvia Sokolsky, the Israeli weightlifting coach who was at the 1972 Olympics, later said he owed his life to Yossef Gutfreund, who had a premonition of what was to come, blocked the door of their room with his body, yelling to Sokolsky to escape.

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