Forty years ago at the Olympic Games in Munich, eleven members of the Israeli team and a German police officer lost their lives in a terrorist attack. At a memorial ceremony on 6 August on the fringes of this year’s Olympic Games in London, Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle remembered the Munich victims together with their friends and families. The ceremony was hosted by the Israeli Embassy in London in cooperation with the Israeli National Olympic Committee and Jewish organizations in London. Federal Minister Westerwelle gave the following address:
-- Translation of advance text --
Deputy Prime Minister,
Minister Limor Livnat,
Mr President of the International Olympic Committee,
Mr President of the Olympic Committee of Israel,
Dear Ilana Romano, Dear Ankie Spitzer,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
40 years ago, deadly terror struck the Olympic Games in my country. The images of Munich 1972 are burned into the German collective memory. The victims of the heinous attack in Munich deserve a dignified memory. Our words and our silence belong to them.
I assure you that Germany has not forgotten. We will never forget the names of the Israeli athletes and coaches who were killed: Moshe Weinberg, Josef Romano, David Berger, Elieser Chalfin, Se’ew Friedman, Josef Gutfreund, Amitzur Shapira, Kehat Schor, Mark Slavin, André Spitzer, Yaakov Szpringer.
Our thoughts are with their families and with their teammates and friends. Our thoughts are also with the family of Anton Fliegerbauer, the German policeman who was killed during the failed rescue operation.
The Olympic Games in Munich were the first global event in Germany after the horrors of Nazism. They were supposed to be cheerful Games. Games conveying happiness and joy. The attack on the Israeli team in the Olympic village came as a profound shock. It was an attack on the Olympic ideals of fairness, mutual respect and peaceful competition.
Germany looks back in grief. We cannot bring back the dead. But it is our responsibility to honor their memory.
Terror can never be justified. No political goal justifies killing innocents. Intolerance and anti-Semitism are the monstrous faces of perverted ideology and hatred.
Unfortunately, terrorism is not only a distant memory. A few weeks ago, an attack on a bus carrying Israeli tourists in Bulgaria brutally reminded us that terrorists continue to spread hate and violence. We must not rest until the perpetrators of such appalling and shameful acts are brought to justice.
Germany will continue to stand by Israel’s side. We will not remain silent when Israel or its people are threatened. Relations between Germany and Israel draw their strength from shared remembrance and Germany’s clear commitment to our historic responsibility. The roots of our relationship lie in the past. But our relationship is forward looking. Germany and Israel are partners and friends.
We will not let terrorism claim victory. We will continue to strive for lasting peace. That, too, is the tribute that we owe to the victims of Munich.