'The hole in my heart will never heal' Families of Munich victims remember tragedy on 50th anniversary

Israeli president and German counterpart pay their respects at two ceremonies in Munich


The widow of killed fencing coach Andre Spitzer and representative of the relatives of the victims Ankie Spitzer speaks during a ceremony to mark the 50th anniversary of an attack on the 1972 Munich Olympics, at the Fuerstenfeldbruck Air Base, southern Germany, on September 5, 2022. - On September 5, 1972, eight gunmen of the Palestinian militant group Black September broke into the Israeli team's flat at the Olympic village in Munich, shooting dead two and taking nine Israelis hostage. West German police responded with a bungled rescue operation in which all nine hostages were killed, along with five of the eight hostage-takers and a police officer. The Games were meant to showcase a new Germany 27 years after the Holocaust but instead opened a deep rift with Israel. (Photo by THOMAS KIENZLE / AFP) (Photo by THOMAS KIENZLE/AFP via Getty Images)

Israeli President Isaac Herzog and German president Frank-Walther Steinmeier stood side by side today to pay their respects to the victims of the 1972 Olympic massacre in Munich.

In a two-part ceremony, the leaders met to honour the 11 Israeli athletes who lost their life when they were taken hostage by the Palestinian terror group, Black September, and a catastrophically bungled ‘rescue’ operation which resulted in a blood-bath killing 22 people.

At the first part of the memorial event, at 09.45 am local time, Munich Mayor Dieter Reiter, the Israeli Minister for Culture and Sport, Yehiel Tropper, and the Israeli Olympic Committee President, Yael Arad, gave speeches on the outskirts of the former Olympic Village in Munich.

The second part of the memorial took place at 2.45 pm at the nearby air base in Fürstenfeldbruck, where the 11 terrorists had been flown to by helicopter before being shot dead by German security forces.

After laying wreaths in silence at the memorial to the fallen athletes, Bavarian prime minister Markus Söder opened the official ceremony by saying: “On behalf of the Free State of Bavaria, I expressly apologize for the mistakes and for the omissions that were made at that time, and I also apologize that it took so long to talk about it and to find compensation.

“We ask for your forgiveness. "

Within the giant but sweltering tent, victims’ relatives sat on the front rows next to the German dignitaries, and many used the blue programmes to fan themselves. In front of the audience was a blue digital background and to the left, the Jewish Chamber Orchestra, all dressed in black.

Taking to the podium, Bundestag President Frank-Walter Steinmeier, began by reading out the names of the killed victims before saying: “We cannot make up for what has happened, not even what you have experienced and suffered in terms of defence, ignorance and injustice. This puts me to shame."

Ankie Spitzer, widow of the Israeli fencing champion Andre Spitzer, had for months said the families would boycott the event if they were not given both a dignified amount of compensation and a formal apology from Germany.

But after Steinmeier had finished his speech, Spitzer not only stood up to applaud the President, but also embraced him.

When she came to give her speech, opening it by addressing her late husband as “My dearest Andre.”

She went on to say: “At the end of the day you are still gone and nothing can change that. When they murdered you, they also killed part of me.

They murdered our hopes and dreams…but not my love for you.” “There will never be closure. The hole in my heart will never ever heal.”

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