Attack at the 1972 Olympics in Munich: agreement between Berlin and the victims’ relatives on compensation

Attack at the 1972 Olympics in Munich: agreement between Berlin and the victims’ relatives on compensation

Berlin | Almost 50 years to the day after the bloody hostage-taking at the Olympic Games in Munich, the German government and the families of the Israeli victims agreed on compensation on Wednesday.

This agreement, immediately welcomed by the Israeli President, ends decades of confidential negotiations and comes at just the right time, just days before the commemoration of the terrorist attack unique in the history of the Olympic Games.

The federal government, as well as the Free State of Bavaria and the city of Munich, will pay 28 million euros to the families of the victims of this hostage situation that led to the deaths of 11 Israeli athletes, a government source told AFP.

Six of the eleven victims of the attack.


Six of the eleven victims of the attack.

“The federal government welcomes the agreement reached with the relatives of the victims,” ​​said Olaf Scholz’s government spokesman, Steffen Hebestreit, immediately.

Israeli President Isaac Herzog expressed his “gratitude” to Germany for these compensations as redress for “historic wrongs”.

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This thorny issue of compensation angered the victims’ families, who felt the federal government’s proposals were too weak and threatened not to attend Monday’s memorial service in Bavaria.

Fifty years later, neither Germany nor the Jewish state have forgotten the “Munich Massacre”.

On September 5, 1972, eight members of the Palestinian organization Black September broke into an apartment of the Israeli delegation in the Olympic Village, killing two Israeli athletes and taking nine other members of the delegation hostage in hopes of an exchange for 232 Palestinian prisoners.

The operation of the German security services at the Fürstenfeldbruck military base, about thirty kilometers from Munich, ended in the deaths of all the hostages, a bloody outcome for which the West German authorities were held partly responsible. Five Palestinian attackers were shot dead and three others arrested.

The agreement also provides for the establishment of a commission of German and Israeli historians that will be given access to previously classified documents in order to investigate the attack and the police fiasco.

In official documents released by Israel in 2012, a report by former intelligence chief Zvi Zamir believes that German police “did not make even a minimal effort to save lives.”

With this agreement, Germany is “fulfilling its historic obligation to the victims and their families in the context of special German-Israeli relations,” the spokesman added.

boycott threats

German and Israeli Presidents Frank-Walter Steinmeier and Isaac Herzog announced as part of the formalization of the agreement that they will both attend the ceremony organized in Bavaria on Monday.

“I would like to thank the federal government for this important step, which is taking responsibility for the historical injustice against the families of the victims of the Munich massacre and is making reparations,” Herzog reacted in a press release.

On August 11, the families of the victims warned against boycotting the commemoration ceremonies in Germany marking the 50th anniversary of the tragedy, as they considered an offer of compensation from the German authorities to be insufficient.

They demanded “public apologies” from the German authorities for “all their mistakes” and their “lies” on the matter, to open “their entire” archives and “just compensation”.

Berlin then offered 10 million euros, including around 4.5 million in 1972 and 2002, for a total of around 5.4 million euros new for 23 direct relatives of the victims.

“They told us that they had to respect what German terror victims received (…), but in our case it is not a local matter for which the German government is not to blame,” said the spokesman for the victims’ families. Ankie Spitzer, who describes the German offer as an “insult”.

Berlin is now hoping that these relatives will take part in the commemorations scheduled for Monday: “The government is now looking forward to a dignified celebration with the families,” said a spokesman.