Germany, Israel mark 50 years since 1972 Munich Olympics attacks

Eleven members of the Israeli Olympic team, five Palestinian attackers and a policeman died in the incident.

Germany has held a ceremony marking the 50th anniversary of the 1972 Munich Olympics attacks on Israeli athletes and team members.

Israeli President Isaac Herzog and his German counterpart, Frank-Walter Steinmeier, attended the memorial and laid a wreath at the site of the massacre on Monday. The ceremony was also attended by International Olympic Committee (IOC) chief Thomas Bach and other officials.

On September 5, 1972, members of the Israeli Olympic team were taken hostage at the athletes’ village by the Palestinian Black September group.

Eleven Israelis, a German policeman as well as five Palestinian attackers died after a standoff at the Olympic village and the nearby Fuerstenfeldbruck airfield, as rescue efforts erupted into gunfight.

German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier (L) and Israel’s Isaac Herzog lay a wreath [Thomas Kienzle/AFP]

The games continued despite the attacks and the IOC for almost half a century ignored calls from the victims’ families for an official act of remembrance at an Olympic Games ceremony.

The IOC eventually held a moment of silence and a reference to the Munich Games victims last year at the Tokyo Summer Olympics opening ceremony.

The ceremony to mark the attacks was welcomed by relatives of the victims and Israel’s government, but Monday’s memorial had been put at risk by families threatening to boycott it over Germany’s compensation offer.

The German government and the Israeli families agreed on Friday on a compensation offer totalling 28 million euros ($28m), with the federal government contributing 22.5 million euros ($22.5m), while 5 million euros ($5m) will come from the state of Bavaria and 500,000 euros ($500,000) will come from the Munich administration.

Portraits of the victims are displayed at the end of a ceremony to mark the 50th anniversary of an attack on the 1972 Munich Olympics
Portraits of the victims are displayed at the end of a ceremony to mark the 50th anniversary of an attack during the 1972 Munich Olympics [Thomas Kienzle/AFP]

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