Germany Apologises 50 Years After Munich Olympics Attack

Germany on Monday sought "forgiveness" from families of victims in the 1972 Munich Olympics attack, admitting responsibility for a litany of failings that led to the deaths of 11 Israelis.

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Germany on Monday sought “forgiveness” from families of victims in the 1972 Munich Olympics attack, admitting responsibility for a litany of failings that led to the deaths of 11 Israelis.

The apology by President Frank-Walter Steinmeier on behalf of Germany 50 years on came after a bitter and long fight by bereaved relatives for appropriate compensation and for Berlin to own up to mistakes made that led to the massacre.

On September 5, 1972, eight gunmen of the Palestinian militant group Black September stormed into the Israeli team’s flat at the Olympic village, shooting dead two and taking nine Israelis hostage.

West German police responded with a bungled rescue operation in which all nine hostages were killed, along with five of the eight hostage-takers and a police officer.

Despite the devastation, the International Olympic Committee announced on the morning of September 6 that the Games would go on.

Steinmeier summarised the entire episode as triple failings – in the preparation of the Games and its security concept; the events of September 5 and 6; and the “third failure began the day after the assassinations – the silence, the suppression and the forgetting”.

He said for decades, there was disregard for the victims’ suffering, calling it “years of hardheartedness”. The Games were meant to showcase a new Germany 27 years after the Holocaust, and to be a marked difference from Hitler’s 1936 propaganda showcase. But instead, they opened a deep rift with Israel.

In 2012, Israel released 45 official documents on the killings, including specially declassified material, which lambasted the performance of the German security services.

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