Munich 1972: the German President asks for “pardon”, 50 years after the hostage taking

The German and Israeli presidents were side by side on Monday to commemorate 50 years since the hostage-taking of the Munich Olympics in 1972.

Apologies on behalf of Germany

The ceremony took place at the Fürstenfeldbruck military base, where Palestinian terrorists shot dead nine Israeli athletes as they fled.

The German president acknowledged the failures of the German authorities to protect and save the victims: “As the Head of State of this country and on behalf of the Federal Republic of Germany, I ask your forgiveness for the lack of protection of Israeli athletes at the time of the Munich Olympics and for the lack of explanation by the sequel. And for the fact that what happened happened,” said Frank-Walter Steinmeier.

“Major Mistakes”

Speaking to families of victims, Munich Mayor Dieter Reiter also asked for forgiveness for mistakes made in September 1972:

“On behalf of the city of Munich, I stand before you today, 50 years later, with a sense of shame. Those responsible for the 1972 Summer Olympics in Munich made some major mistakes. I apologize for the fact that after the attack they did not do what humanity would have demanded: to acknowledge their mistakes and take responsibility for them.”

A total of eleven Israeli athletes and coaches as well as a German policeman perished during the Munich hostage-taking. Five of the eight terrorists were killed. This tragedy had not led to the cessation of the Olympic Games.

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