Munich Families Still Mourn, 40 Years Later

Relatives Keep Memories of Slain Israeli Athletes Alive

By Nathan Jeffay and Naomi Zeveloff

Published July 23, 2012, issue of July 27, 2012.
  • Print
  • Share Share
  • Single Page

(page 3 of 4)

“They died on Olympic ground in the context of competing in the Olympics. The fact that the Olympic Committee is not remembering them as its children is an antithesis [of the Olympic spirit],” she said.

The State of Israel, which will hold a memorial ceremony in London, has continued to honor the memory of the Munich 11, she said, as has the Israeli public. But for Romano, the campaign is part of a promise she made to her children, ages 6 years, 4 years and 6 months at the time of the massacre. “They asked, ‘We’ll never see Daddy again?’ and I said ‘Yes’ and told them the real story. I promised them that their father’s memory will never be lost and we’ll tell the story of their father and his friends forever. After all these years, I stand on my promise.”

In her private life, she has delivered on the pledge. Her whole family, including her daughters and eight grandchildren, ranging in age from 5 to 18, gather at her husband’s grave on the yahrzeit and on Israel’s Memorial Day. When he was 3, the youngest grandson said: “I don’t understand. We always go to Grandpa, but he never comes.”

David Mark Berger’s family has also spoken about the incident publicly, dedicating a statue at a Cleveland-area Jewish community center in their son’s honor and naming the weight room at Shaker Heights High School after him. But when it came to discussing the Munich massacre at home, the conversations came slowly. “We didn’t really talk about it that much,” said his sister, Barbara Berger, who was 22 at the time of his death. “It was something that made my parents uncomfortable.”

The summer before the Munich Olympics, Barbara Berger visited her brother in Tel Aviv, where they rode his motorcycle and cooked together, getting to know each other as adults for the first time. Her parents became aware of his death when NBC sportscaster Jim McKay delivered the news on national television.

Barbara Berger’s 29-year-old daughter, Dalit Gulak Wolfe, said that she and her brother, David Gulak are both named after their fallen uncle, and that they learned about their Olympian namesake from their mother and their grandparents. They stressed David Berger’s accomplishments instead of his death, Gulak Wolfe said.

Her grandfather, a doctor, filled his office with his grandson’s medals and various diplomas. He had a bachelor’s degree in psychology from Tulane University, a master’s degree in business administration and a law degree from Columbia.


The Jewish Daily Forward welcomes reader comments in order to promote thoughtful discussion on issues of importance to the Jewish community. In the interest of maintaining a civil forum, The Jewish Daily Forwardrequires that all commenters be appropriately respectful toward our writers, other commenters and the subjects of the articles. Vigorous debate and reasoned critique are welcome; name-calling and personal invective are not. While we generally do not seek to edit or actively moderate comments, our spam filter prevents most links and certain key words from being posted and The Jewish Daily Forward reserves the right to remove comments for any reason.





Find us on Facebook!
  • Jon Stewart responds to his critics: “Look, obviously there are many strong opinions on this. But just merely mentioning Israel or questioning in any way the effectiveness or humanity of Israel’s policies is not the same thing as being pro-Hamas.”
  • "My bat mitzvah party took place in our living room. There were only a few Jewish kids there, and only one from my Sunday school class. She sat in the corner, wearing the right clothes, asking her mom when they could go." The latest in our Promised Lands series — what state should we visit next?
  • Former Israeli National Security Advisor Yaakov Amidror: “A cease-fire will mean that anytime Hamas wants to fight it can. Occupation of Gaza will bring longer-term quiet, but the price will be very high.” What do you think?
  • Should couples sign a pre-pregnancy contract, outlining how caring for the infant will be equally divided between the two parties involved? Just think of it as a ketubah for expectant parents:
  • Many #Israelis can't make it to bomb shelters in time. One of them is Amos Oz.
  • According to Israeli professor Mordechai Kedar, “the only thing that can deter terrorists, like those who kidnapped the children and killed them, is the knowledge that their sister or their mother will be raped."
  • Why does ultra-Orthodox group Agudath Israel of America receive its largest donation from the majority owners of Walmart? Find out here: http://jd.fo/q4XfI
  • Woody Allen on the situation in #Gaza: It's “a terrible, tragic thing. Innocent lives are lost left and right, and it’s a horrible situation that eventually has to right itself.”
  • "Mark your calendars: It was on Sunday, July 20, that the momentum turned against Israel." J.J. Goldberg's latest analysis on Israel's ground operation in Gaza:
  • What do you think?
  • "To everyone who is reading this article and saying, “Yes, but… Hamas,” I would ask you to just stop with the “buts.” Take a single moment and allow yourself to feel this tremendous loss. Lay down your arms and grieve for the children of Gaza."
  • Professor Dan Markel, 41 years old, was found shot and killed in his Tallahassee home on Friday. Jay Michaelson can't explain the death, just grieve for it.
  • Employees complained that the food they received to end the daily fast during the holy month of Ramadan was not enough (no non-kosher food is allowed in the plant). The next day, they were dismissed.
  • Why are peace activists getting beat up in Tel Aviv? http://jd.fo/s4YsG
  • Backstreet's...not back.
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?




















We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.