Monaco ’72, 50 years ago the massacre of the Black September terrorists. An apology from Germany: “We got it all wrong” –

Fifty years after the attack on Israeli athletes at the Olympics, Berlin offers the heirs 28 million

BERLIN – The 1972 Munich Olympics were intended as the “games of joy”. In the intentions of the Federal Republic risen from the ashes of Nazism, they should have made us forget the only precedent on German soil, the gloomy and martial ones of 1936 in Berlin that had celebrated the glory of the Hitlerian regime.

Instead they became and went down in history as the “games of terror”.

On the morning of September 5th, a group of eight Palestinian terrorists of “Black September”, taking advantage of the deliberately loose security measures to give an image of relaxed serenity, he did raided the Olympic village and took eleven athletes and technicians from the Israeli delegation hostage.

Two of them were killed almost immediately, because they tried to resist. It was only the prologue to the massacre.

Less than twenty-four hours later, a clumsy release attempt by the German policewho on the runway of the Fürstenfeldbruck airport opened fire on terrorists while trying to take the hostages on a plane that was supposed to take them to Cairo, ended in tragedy, causing the death of all Israeli athletesa policeman and five Palestinians.

Nevertheless, amid controversy and protests, the Olympics continued.

Exactly fifty years have passed.

And this morning, in the same Bavarian airport where the drama took place, the president of the Federal Republic, Frank-Walter Steinmeier, will officially apologize for the first time on behalf of Germany for all the mistakes made then and above all for the long refusal of the German authorities to clarify the facts and recognize their responsibilities, adequately compensating the relatives of the victims.

Listening to him will be the head of the State of Israel Yitzhak Herzog and the representatives of the families, who for years have waged a long legal battle against Bonn and then Berlin, colliding with a rubber wall. An agreement was in fact reached, after they had threatened to boycott the ceremony, a gesture that if put into practice would have forced Herzog to desert.

After lengthy negotiations, the German state offered to pay the relatives and heirs of the athletes killed 28 million euros, of which 22 million will be paid by the federal government, 5.5 million by the Land of Bavaria and 500 thousand by the city of Munich.

But far beyond money, it is moral compensation and the admission of unforgivable German conduct before, during and after the events that belatedly close a wound that has continued to bleed for half a century.

In fact, even before the start of the Olympics the German authorities had ignored the warnings of the Israeli services on the concrete possibility of an attack.

Then when the attack took place, they refused any offer of help from Tel Avivwho had also sent a team of leatherheads specializing in the freeing of hostages.

As Zvi Zamir, then head of the Mossad, remembers, who personally followed all the phases of the drama, “our every proposal or objection was rejected, there was no attempt to save lives, the only thing they wanted was to somehow put an end to it in order to continue the games ». Instead, on the runway of the airport it was Bavarian police units, ill-equipped and who had never faced a terrorist attack. Less than three months later, insult was added to the damage: in the negotiations that followed the hijacking of a Lufthansa plane by another Palestinian group, the German government freed the three surviving terroristswho flew to Tripoli where they were welcomed as heroes by Gaddafi and thousands of people in delirium.

The worst came later, when for years German ministers and bureaucrats reacted with arrogance and annoyance to family requestsoffering only in 2002 a compensation of 5 million as a humanitarian gesture and refusing to admit mistakes, denying access to documents and medical records, trying to hide everything under the carpet.

As Klaus Hillenbrand writes on the Taz«No one resigned, there was no commission of inquiry, no self-criticism and above all no one ever apologized. We gave the impression that these people’s lives didn’t have too much value. It was time to correct it“.

September 5, 2022 (change September 5, 2022 | 07:37)

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