Sunday September 2, 2012
By Matthew Kalman
WIDOWS of Israeli athletes murdered at the Munich Olympics by Palestinians are demanding answers after newly declassified documents exposed massive government incompetence and later collusion with the terrorists.
Eleven members of the Israeli team were killed after eight Black September terrorists broke into their apartment at the Olympic village in Munich in 1972.
Two Israelis died initially, nine more were taken hostage and killed during a botched rescue attempt.
Government records published by German magazine Der Spiegel last week reveal the West German government “maintained secret contacts with the organisers of the attack for years afterward and appeased the Palestinians to prevent further bloodshed on German soil”.
Ankie Spitzer, widow of murdered fencing coach Andre Spitzer, demanded: “The German government should open all the documents it has been hiding, reveal all its failures and draw conclusions, so that justice is finally served.”
Ilana Romano, widow of weightlifter Yossef Romano, said: “There was chaos and irresponsibility.”
Her husband was shot, tortured and bled to death in front of his bound teammates.
“There is no other way but for Germany to stand up and admit to its mistakes. It is time for it to open its Pandora’s box and tell the world about its errors,” she added.
Der Spiegel reveals that West Germany declined to ask for the extradition of Mohammed Daoud Oudeh, the Munich mastermind, when he was later arrested in France. The Bonn government also gladly surrendered the three PLO terrorists captured in Munich when a Lufthansa plane was hijacked a few weeks after the Olympics.
From contacts now revealed between German diplomats and Black September leaders, there are suspicions that the Lufthansa hijacking was staged with the tacit connivance of Bonn.
The magazine reports that within months of the Olympics massacre, there was “active but secret diplomatic communication between Germans and Palestinians.
“West German representatives were talking to men like Abu Youssef, Ali Salameh and Amin al-Hindi, all of them masterminds of the Munich murders.”
Black September was revealed to be a front for Yasser Arafat’s Fatah group in the PLO. The financier of the operation was Mahmoud Abbas, Arafat’s deputy and now president of the PLO and the Palestinian Authority.
Meanwhile, Israeli Cabinet documents and other material declassified last week reveal the agonising drama unfolding, minute by minute, via cables and phone calls from Munich and growing frustration among Israeli officials at the Germans’ incompetence.
The kidnappers agreed to fly in two helicopters with the hostages to a nearby military airfield to board a plane to Cairo.
The plane was manned by undercover Bavarian police. The plan was to draw the kidnappers into the open at the airfield where they would be shot by snipers but events went tragically wrong. When five terrorists emerged from the helicopters, the snipers opened fire. The terrorists set alight to one of the helicopters with the hostages inside and shot the others dead. A German police officer also died.
Mossad chief Zvi Zamir flew to Germany to help direct the rescue. In a bitter report to the Israeli government, he said he saw “confusion and inaction”.
Most chilling was the complaint by West German Chancellor Willy Brandt to Israeli Prime Minister Golda Meir about Israeli criticism of his decision to release the three surviving terrorists after the Lutfhansa hijacking that October. “There was no other choice,” he wrote. Yet according to documents, diplomats were making a deal with the PLO. Says Der Spiegel: “Any contact with West German representatives, even in secret, upgraded the PLO’s status as an institution.
“In return, the government of then Chancellor Willy Brandt... hoped to protect Germany from further attacks.
“But the price they had to pay in return appears to have been high.”