Munich, Sep 6 (IANS) German president Frank-Walter Steinmeier and his Israeli counterpart Reuvin Rivlin on Wednesday oversaw the inauguration of a memorial here to 11 Israeli athletes and a German policeman killed by a Palestinian terror group in an attack during the 1972 Munich Olympics.
Steinmeier and Rivlin attended the unveiling ceremony at the Olympic Park in Munich, southern Germany, 45 years after the attack by the members of the “Black September” terror group, reports Efe.
“It’s high time, and we owe it firstly to you, the relatives,” Steinmeier said in the presence of the victims’ family members.
Rivlin said the International Olympic Committee (IOC) had spent years not wanting to pay tribute to the victims, and thanked IOC Chairman Thomas Bach for remedying this.
The Israeli president said that an Olympics of peace and reconciliation following the Holocaust had turned into “the blood Olympics”.
Bavaria’s state minister for culture Ludwig Spaenle said that it was still embarrassing that Germany had not been able to protect the athletes.
“We could not prevent their deaths, that is why we want to give you this place of remembrance,” he said.
The then president of the German Olympic Committee Willy Daume had wanted Germany to host the Games to project an image of an open country, in contrast to the 1936 Berlin Olympics, which had been organised by the Nazi regime.
On the 11th day of the Games, members of Black September managed to infiltrate the apartments in the Olympic Village where the Israeli team was staying.
Weightlifter Yossef Romano and wrestling coach Mosche Weinberg were shot and killed by the attackers before nine others were taken hostage — some of whom, as Steinmeier pointed out Wednesday, were the sons of Holocaust survivors.
The nine hostages and a policeman were eventually killed after an unsuccessful rescue attempt on the part of the German authorities.
Both presidents underscored the obligation to stand firm in the fight against terror.