'Let this never happen again' Speaker Hoyle remembers Munich massacre dead on 50th anniversary

Keir Starmer, Tzipi Hotovely and Chief Rabbi Mirvis all attended the event in Westminster


Speaker of the House of Commons Sir Lindsay Hoyle has paid an emotional tribute to victims of the 1972 Munich Olympic massacre on the 50th anniversary of the attack, saying “let this never happen again”.

In a somber outdoor service in the Palace of Westminster’s New Palace Yard on Monday, he recalled the attack by the Black September group, which led to the deaths of 11 Israeli athletes and one German police officer. The Palestinian terror group attempted to take the Israeli athletes and coaches hostage, in exchange for the release of prisoners, but all of the hostages - aged 18 to 51 - were killed.

“On this day half a century ago, the world woke up to some of the most shocking scenes. A hostage crisis was taking place at the Olympic Games in Munich,” said Sir Lindsay.

“Today, 50 years later, we gather here in Parliament as British politicians, Olympians and sports fans to remember the 11 Olympians whose lives were taken so needlessly. They were there, in Munich, to represent their country. But also, to take part in the Olympics, the leading international sporting competition which has peace, understanding, friendship, solidarity and fair play at its heart.

“After all, sport has a unique ability to bring people together, whether we are taking part, cheering on our team from the sidelines or watching on TV with the family. For that moment, we are one.”

He added: “Today, we are at one, thinking of those 11 Israeli coaches and athletes, paying tribute to their bravery and sporting prowess, and remembering their families, from whom they were so cruelly snatched.

“I want us to express our wish collectively, that the Olympic movement’s ideals - particularly those of peace and understanding - are the ones that will prevail in the future.

“Let this never happen again.”

The event, hosted by The Lord Speaker and Speaker Hoyle, was attended by parliamentarians across the political spectrum, Olympians and Paralympians and leading community figures, from Israeli Ambassador Tzipi Hotovely to Chief Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis - who both delivered readings at the event. 

Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer was joined by MP Yvette Cooper, a parliamentary supporter of Labour Friends of Israel, as they laid a wreath at the memorial event. 

Speaking to the JC at a reception in the Speaker’s House, Lord Stuart Polak, Conservative Friends of Israel’s Honorary President, said the memorial brought back the moment he watched the 1972 events unfold. As a young boy in Liverpool, he remembered watching the TV as the attack against Israeli athletes was underway. 

He said: “I remember being a sporty kid in Liverpool watching the enormity of what was unfolding in 1972. I found myself thinking of it today. I’m very grateful to The Lord Speaker and Speaker Hoyle for putting on such a moving ceremony.”  

Rabbi Jonathan Romain, of Maidenhead synagogue, echoed the sentiment, saying: “I remember what happened in Munich well, I was watching it unfold back home - which was then in Ruislip. I learnt from Munich, that every Israeli is a target.”

Meanwhile, Laura Marks, chair of the Holocaust Memorial Day Trust, said the memory of the attack “breaks your heart." 

“The politics of today makes talking about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict very difficult, but it is important to remember that the victims were young people, athletes who had gone to represent their country. It’s so important to remember them.” 

Share via

Want more from the JC?

To continue reading, we just need a few details...

Want more from
the JC?

To continue reading, we just
need a few details...

Get the best news and views from across the Jewish world Get subscriber-only offers from our partners Subscribe to get access to our e-paper and archive