STORY: On September 5, 1972, Palestinian gunmen from the radical Black September ground took members of the Israeli Olympic team at the poorly secured athletes' village.
Within 24 hours, 11 Israelis, five Palestinians and a German policeman were dead after a standoff and subsequent rescue effort erupted into gunfire.
Among the victims were Israel’s fencing coach Andre Spitzer and weightlifter Joseph Romano, whose widows, Ankie Spitzer and Ilana Romano, both now aged 76, have dedicated the last 50 years to the commemoration of their loved ones and led the fight for compensation.
Reuters also heard from former Israeli race-walker and Holocaust survivor, Sahul Ladany, a two-time Olympian, who survived the Black September attack.
Born in 1936 in Belgrade, Ladany endured Nazi concentration camp Bergen-Belsen, from which he was liberated before turning nine years old. He immigrated to Israel in 1948 and became a runner, then a professor of industrial engineering and management at Ben Gurion University.
The 50th anniversary ceremony, which will be held in Munich next week, was overshadowed by a row with the German authorities over compensation for the victims’ families, which initially said they would boycott the event.
But on Wednesday (August 31) the Israeli and German presidents said the disagreement had been resolved, with the parties reaching agreement. The families then decided to attend the ceremony.
Spitzer and Romano have long accused the German authorities of lying and withholding information from them.
They say that, in addition to seeking compensation, they asked Germany to take responsibility and apologize for what they say were mistakes in handling the kidnapping and mistreatment of the relatives. They also want Germany to open its archives so they can learn what happened.