After decades of legal wrangling over compensation after the 1972 Munich Olympics massacre, the German government has reached an agreement with victims’ families, government spokesperson Steffen Hebestreit said on Wednesday in Berlin.
In a joint statement by Israeli President Isaac Herzog and his German counterpart Frank-Walter Steinmeier, Herzog said that “We welcome the results of the discussions. This agreement cannot heal the wounds, but it includes an acceptance of responsibility on Germany’s part and its recognition of the terrible suffering of the victims, whom we shall commemorate next week, and of their loved ones.”
The statement also said that Herzog had worked for months “with representatives of the bereaved families and the Olympic Committee of Israel, while also speaking regularly with his friend President Steinmeier” to reach the agreement.
Herzog thanked Steinmeier in the statement, calling him a “close friend of Israel,” and also expressed his “appreciation for this important step by the German government, led by Chancellor Scholz.”
Steinmeier said in the statement that his “thoughts are with the bereaved families.” He added: “I also thank my friend and colleague Isaac Herzog for his trust and engagement, and for keeping the conversation open.”
The deal includes a German-Israeli research commission that will re-examine the events that claimed 12 lives, acceptance of political responsibility within the framework of the commemoration ceremony, as well as compensation offers by the German government, the province of Bavaria, and the city of Munich, Habestreit explained.
“After 50 years, it creates the conditions for coming to terms with a painful chapter in our common history,” he said.
However, the president of the Central Council of Jews in Germany, Josef Schuster, stressed that the mistakes made by the German side could not and should not be forgotten.
“But it must be acknowledged that those politically responsible in the present have faced up to the responsibility and mistakes of the past,” he said.
Family members and other survivors have long accused Germany of providing inadequate security, botching a rescue attempt and not being willing to pay reparations.
A memorial is planned for Monday, the 50th anniversary of the attacks, in Munich. Family members have threatened to boycott that event, opting to attend an alternate event in Israel later in September.
However, after the deal on compensation was reached, they are to attend the memorial, Ankie Spizter said on Wendesday according to Israeli media reports. She is the widow of late Israeli fencing coach André Spitzer, who was killed in the attack.
According to Israeli media reports, the relatives must sign a confidentiality agreement as part of the deal, which is to keep them from commenting on the amount of compensation.
This declaration is to be signed next Tuesday during their stay in Germany, the newspaper Israel Hayom wrote.
A compensation sum of €28 million ($28.14 million) had recently been discussed, dpa has learned from government sources.
On September 5, 1972, Palestinian terrorists attacked the Israeli team at the Olympic Games in Munich. Eleven members of the team and one police officer were killed during the failed rescue operation by the police at the Fürstenfeldbruck air base near Munich.