Germany marks 40 years since Munich massacre

Bavarian state government held memorial services in Munich to remember the murder of 11 Israelis at 1972 Olympics.

Munich Ceremony (R370) (photo credit: REUTERS/Michael Dalder)
Munich Ceremony (R370)
(photo credit: REUTERS/Michael Dalder)
BERLIN – The Bavarian state government held memorial services on Wednesday in Munich and at the Fürstenfeldbruck Air Base, where Black September terrorists on September 5, 1972, attacked Israeli Olympic sportsmen.
The Palestinian attack resulted in the murders of 11 Israelis and a German police officer.
Vice Premier Silvan Shalom traveled to the southern German state to participate in the memorials with a 21-member Israel delegation, including widows and family members of the Israeli victims of the massacre.
Wearing a sky-blue kippa, Shalom cited the continuation of terrorism in connection with the July attack in Bulgaria, where a suicide bomber killed five Israeli tourists and their local driver, and the recent efforts to kill Israelis in India, Georgia, Cyprus and Thailand.
Shalom laid the blame for this squarely on the Islamic Republic. “Iran and its leaders are spreading the terror across the world and denying the Holocaust. Iran is not a problem of Israel, but of the international community,” he said.
“Iran tries to develop an atomic bomb and states that Israel does not have the right to exist. The international community has to be decisive against Iran,” added Shalom.
Current and former members of the Israel Olympic Committee attended the services. Israeli Ambassador Ya’acov Hadas-Handelsman and Tibor Shalev-Schlosser, head of the Israeli Consulate in Munich, appeared at the commemoration events.
Speaking on a live Bayerisches Fernsehen television feed at Fürstenfeldbruck, Bavarian Gov. Horst Seehofer termed the Palestinian act “barbaric” and announced the construction of a memorial for the victims.
Seehofer said terrorist attacks are a real danger for Israel, citing the Bulgarian attack. “Jewish and Israeli institutions are endangered and need special security measures,” he said. Israeli and American intelligence officials attributed July’s suicide bombing to a joint Hezbollah-Iran operation.
Germany permits Hezbollah to function as a legal political organization. According to the country’s domestic intelligence agency, Hezbollah has 950 members in the Federal Republic. The administration of Angela Merkel, which includes Interior Minister Hans-Peter Friedrich, has refused to ban the group.
Friedrich spoke at the memorial and said there are a lot of open questions about “whether we were naïve and underestimated the danger” in 1972. German archives show that the Federal Republic cooperated with Black September after the attacks and did not prosecute or pursue key members of the group.
One top German politician has called for the EU to ban Hezbollah. Philipp Missfelder, Bundestag foreign policy spokesman for Merkel’s party, told The Jerusalem Post in late August that Hezbollah should be outlawed. His appeal has attracted scarce attention from Germany’s media and the Foreign Ministry.
Dr. Manfred Gerstenfeld, a board member and former chairman of the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs, wrote the Post by email on Wednesday, “The German attitude toward the Palestinian murderers after Munich 1972 is a symbolic post-war victory for the appeasement policies of the late British prime minister Neville Chamberlain. It was an, albeit much smaller, version of Munich 1938 when he delivered the Czech democracy to Hitler. This became the symbol of Chamberlain’s policies failure. The German appeasement of totalitarians from the Muslim world in Munich does not stand alone.”
He continued, “The European refusal to call Hezbollah a terrorist group is yet another example of the same attitude. Appeasement also explains the unwillingness of European governments to bring Iran Prime Minister Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and [Supreme Leader] Ayatollah Khamenei before an International Court to which they are committed under the UN Genocide convention.
Hitler’s democratic opponents paid heavily for their appeasement of him. Most probably European democracies will equally pay for their appeasement of Muslim totalitarians.”
The International Olympic Committee refused to allow a moment of silence for the 40-year commemoration of the massacre at the London Games in July. Ankie Spitzer, widow of Andre Spitzer, the slain Israeli coach of the 1972 fencing team, blasted the IOC for the refusal, and criticized German authorities for “incompetence and arrogance” in their handling of the attack.
Dr. Dieter Graumann, head of Germany’s Central Council of Jews, sharply criticized the German security apparatus for the “catastrophe” and said that up until today there has been no responsibility or reflection on the part of the government. Graumann slammed the head of the IOC during the massacre.
IOC chief American Avery Brundage, a Nazi sympathizer, urged that the “games must go on” and sent a message to Jews that “who cares that the Jews are gone.”
British Foreign Minister William Hague said on Wednesday: “The terrorist attack at Munich, which cost the lives of 11 innocent Israeli athletes and officials, was a shocking act of evil which betrayed everything the Olympic movement stands for.
“On today’s sad anniversary we pay tribute to their memory and reiterate our determination to confront terrorism and stand with the victims of terrorism wherever it may occur,” Hague said.
Jonny Paul in London contributed to this report.