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Germany regrets boycott by Munich attack victims' families

The German government has proposed further talks on compensation with the families of the Israelis killed in the 1972 Munich Olympics terror attack.

August 12, 2022
12 August 2022

The German government said Friday it regrets plans by families of Israeli athletes killed at the 1972 Summer Olympics in Munich to boycott a 50-year anniversary ceremony next month and said it was prepared to continue talks on further compensation.

Eleven Israelis and a German police officer were killed after members of the militant Palestinian group Black September broke into the Olympic Village on September 5, 1972.

They took Israelis hostage, hoping to force the release of Palestinian prisoners held by Israel and two left-wing extremists in West German jails.

Ankie Spitzer holds a framed photo of her husband Andre, an Israeli fencing coach, who was killed at the 1972 Olympics in Munich by a Palestinian terror group. (AP Photo/Maya Alleruzzo, File)

The victims’ families announced on Thursday that they would not attend the memorial ceremony, underscoring ongoing friction between Germany and Israel.

The two countries have built strong ties despite the enduring legacy of the Holocaust, in which German Nazis systematically killed six million Jews during World War II.

Relatives of the athletes have long accused Germany of failing to secure the Olympic Village, refusing Israeli help and botching the rescue operation in which the German police officer and five of the attackers died.

While Germany has apologized for mishandling the response to the attack and opened previously sealed archives, relatives of the victims say the amount of compensation offered by the government so far is "an insult."

Ankie Spitzer, the widow of slain Israeli fencing coach Andre Spitzer, is among the relatives who say the German government’s compensation offer is an insult. (AP Photo/Maya Alleruzzo, File)

German government spokesman Steffen Hebestreit said Friday that Germany was committed to thoroughly reviewing what had happened 50 years ago and prepared to continue discussing the issue of "recognition payments" to the relatives.

"Of course, we very much regret the decision by the relatives to cancel their attendance at the event,” he told reporters in Berlin. “The government hopes that a way will be found so the relatives can decide to attend the memorial event on September 5 after all."

Hebestreit declined to comment on how much compensation Germany was willing to offer. So far, the country has provided about five million euros; German media report that the government is prepared to double that amount, while relatives are seeking considerably more.

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