Skip To Content
JEWISH. INDEPENDENT. NONPROFIT.

Support the Forward

Funded by readers like you DonateSubscribe
Fast Forward

Israeli families of Munich Olympics massacre victims to boycott German ceremony marking 50th anniversary

The families are calling the financial compensation that the German government will offer them ‘a joke’

(JTA) — All but one of the family members of the 11 Israeli athletes murdered during the 1972 Munich Olympics are planning to boycott a ceremony marking the 50th anniversary of the incident, calling the financial compensation that the German government will offer them “a joke.”

According to a German government memo obtained by The New York Times, various agencies have thus far paid a total of 4.6 million euros ($4.8 million) to the families, and Germany is expected to offer an additional 5.4 million euros ($5.6 million). 

The families are reportedly asking for a sum about 20 times larger than that and are urging Israel’s government to join in boycotting the ceremony, saying that Germany’s actions before, during and after the incident were insufficient and left the Israeli athletes at risk. Details have emerged suggesting that Germany had advance notice of a threat of violence.

“The level of state responsibility of Germany, as we know it now, is far more extensive compared to the facts which were known in 1972-2020,” a lawyer representing the families told the Times. “Ample evidence was recently discovered which shows that the Government not only failed in the protection of the athletes but was also instrumental in the cover up of its failure.”

During the second week of the 1972 Games, in the incident now known as the Munich Massacre, the Palestinian terrorist group Black September held six coaches and five athletes from Israel’s team hostage in their Olympic village apartment before brutally killing them. A West German police officer was also killed in the violence.

Israel and Germany have enjoyed very close relations since 1965, and this is a rare occasion that could cause tension.

“Ties with Germany are very important and probably surpass everything else,” Ankie Spitzer, widow of the slain Israeli fencing coach Andrei Spitzer who is representing the families in meetings with Israeli President Isaac Herzog, told the Times. Herzog is currently slated to attend the Sept. 5 ceremony in Munich.

Spitzer was a leading voice in the longstanding effort to convince the International Olympic Committee to acknowledge the massacre with an official ceremony, which it did in 2016 and at last summer’s opening ceremony.

Spitzer urged Israel to “say publicly what everyone is saying quietly fearing to insult the Germans — it’s time to finally compensate the families of the victims for the terrible failures that led to the death of Andrei and the other 10 athletes, and for all the lies and cover-ups in the last 50 years.”

This article originally appeared on JTA.org.

Engage

  • SHARE YOUR FEEDBACK

  • UPCOMING EVENT

    SKY & SCULPTURE

    Hybrid: Online and at the Marlene Meyerson JCC Manhattan

    Oct 2, 2022

    6:30 pm ET · 

    A Sukkah, IMKHA, created by artist Tobi Kahn, for the Marlene Meyerson JCC of Manhattan is an installation consisting of 13 interrelated sculpted painted wooden panels, constituting a single work of art. Join for a panel discussion with Rabbi Joanna Samuels, Chief Executive Director of the Marlene Meyerson JCC of Manhattan, Talya Zax, Innovation Editor of the Forward, and Tobi Kahn, Artist. Moderated by Mattie Kahn.

Republish This Story

Please read before republishing

We’re happy to make this story available to republish for free, unless it originated with JTA, Haaretz or another publication (as indicated on the article) and as long as you follow our guidelines. You must credit the Forward, retain our pixel and preserve our canonical link in Google search.  See our full guidelines for more information, and this guide for detail about canonical URLs.

To republish, copy the HTML by clicking on the yellow button to the right; it includes our tracking pixel, all paragraph styles and hyperlinks, the author byline and credit to the Forward. It does not include images; to avoid copyright violations, you must add them manually, following our guidelines. Please email us at [email protected], subject line “republish,” with any questions or to let us know what stories you’re picking up.

We don't support Internet Explorer

Please use Chrome, Safari, Firefox, or Edge to view this site.