Munich massacre: Israeli victims' families to boycott memorial

The boycott is due to long-standing disputes with German authorities over compensatory damages. The families have largely blamed Germany for its failure to protect the athletes.

Members of Israeli sports organizations form a Guard of Honor in front of command cars bearing the bodies of victims of the Munich massacre during memorial services at Lod Airport (photo credit: GPO FLICKR/WIKIMEDIA COMMONS)
Members of Israeli sports organizations form a Guard of Honor in front of command cars bearing the bodies of victims of the Munich massacre during memorial services at Lod Airport
(photo credit: GPO FLICKR/WIKIMEDIA COMMONS)

Families of victims of the 1972 Munich Olympics massacre are planning to boycott the 50th anniversary memorial set for September 5 in Munich due to long-standing disputes with German authorities over compensatory damages, The New York Times reported Wednesday.

The attack, carried out by the Palestinian Black September terrorist group, left 11 Israelis dead after hours of being held hostage. A German policeman also died. The families of the victims have maintained that the compensatory responsibilities fall on Germany due to its failure to protect the athletes.

President Isaac Herzog is scheduled to attend the memorial, according to the Times. It is unclear if the families’ decision to boycott it will affect his attendance.

What happened at the Munich Olympics in 1972?

On September 5, 1972, eleven Israeli athletes were taken hostage by eight members of the Black September faction, who broke into the Israeli delegation’s accommodation at the Olympic Village in Munich.

black september311 (credit: ASSOCIATED PRESS)black september311 (credit: ASSOCIATED PRESS)

After gaining access to the Israeli athletes’ apartments by scaling a chain-link fence and carrying duffel bags loaded with grenades and assault rifles, the terrorists shot and killed Yossef Romano, a weightlifter, and Moshe Weinberg, a wrestling coach.

Left with nine hostages, the next 24 hours were filled with tense negotiations between the hostage-takers and the authorities. Black September demanded that in return for the athletes and coaches, 236 prisoners incarcerated in Israel be released and safely transported to Egypt.

Victims' families demand compensation

The victims’ families have largely blamed Germany in the past for its failure to protect the athletes, which is what has stood behind their compensation demands.

In July, the German government indicated that it would increase the funds given to the victims’ families, who called the sum “insulting,” according to AP.

Additionally, last November, some 21 families of the victims demanded €110 million in compensation from Libya over its role in the attack. The survivors said former Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi supported and actively assisted the attackers after they escaped Munich.

The President’s Office did not respond to a request for comment.

Aaron Reich contributed to this report.