The German president apologizes for the failure of the Olympic offensive in 1972

BERLIN (AFP) – Germany’s president apologized on Monday for his country’s multiple failures before, during and after the 1972 Munich Olympics, joining his Israeli counterpart and relatives of 11 Israeli athletes killed in an attack by Palestinian gunmen at the Games 50 years ago. .

The anniversary ceremony at Fuertenfeldbruck Airport outside Munich – the scene of a failed rescue attempt that killed nine Israeli athletes, a West German police officer and five of the attackers – came days after an agreement ended a long-running compensation dispute. German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier and Israeli President Isaac Herzog laid wreaths at the site.

Last week’s deal led to relatives of the dead athletes threatening to boycott the anniversary. They will receive €28 million in compensation, a significant increase from the initial offer of €10 million.

As part of the agreement, Germany agreed to acknowledge the failure of the authorities at the time and to allow German and Israeli historians to review the events surrounding the attack.

“We are talking about a great tragedy and a triple failure,” said German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier. “The first relates to the preparation of the games and the security concept. The second is the events of September 5 and 6, 1972. The third failure begins the day after the attack: silence, denial, forgetfulness.”

Before the dawn of September 5, 1972, eight members of a Palestinian group called Black September climbed over the unprotected fence of the Olympic Village. They stormed the building where the Israeli team was staying and killed wrestling coach Moshe Weinberg and weightlifter Yossi Romano.

Some Israeli athletes managed to escape, but nine were captured. The kidnappers demanded the release of more than 200 Palestinians held by Israel and two German leftist extremists in West German prisons.