BERLIN: German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier admitted on Sunday it was “shameful” that it took five decades for Berlin to agree compensation for the bereaved families of Israeli victims in 1972 Munich Olympics offensive.
“That it has taken 50 years to reach this agreement in recent days is indeed shameful,” Steinmeier said, standing next to his Israeli counterpart Isaac Herzog, with whom the German leader will attend a memorial ceremony in Munich on Monday. .
A row over Berlin’s earlier financial offer to relatives of the victims threatened to spoil the ceremony, with the families initially planning a boycott.
But an agreement was finally reached on Wednesday offering 28 million euros in compensation, and also sees for the first time the German state recognize its “responsibility” in the shortcomings which led to the carnage.
On September 5, 1972, eight gunmen from the Palestinian militant group Black September broke into the Israeli team’s apartment in the Olympic Village, shooting two dead and taking nine Israelis hostage.
West German police responded with a failed 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.
In 2012, Israel released 45 official documents about the killings, including specially declassified documents, which castigated the performance of the German security services.
Included in the reports is an official account by former Israeli intelligence chief Zvi Zamir who said German police “did not even make a minimal effort to save human lives”.
Steinmeier said he would address some of the German flaws during his speech at Monday’s ceremony.
“I’m going to talk about… some errors in judgement, some misconduct and some mistakes made during the Games in Munich,” he said.
Herzog said the deal brings “this painful episode to a place of healing.”
“I hope that from now on, we will continue to remember, invoke and above all reaffirm the lessons of this tragedy, including the importance of combating terrorism, for future generations.”

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