BERLIN. On Wednesday, the German government said it was ready to pay additional compensation to the families of 11 Israeli athletes killed at the 1972 Summer Olympics in Munich by members of a Palestinian group. Family members of the athletes criticized the proposed amount as “offensive”.
Relatives of the athletes have long been critical of the way the German authorities handled the attack and its aftermath. Demands for more compensation threaten to overshadow a planned memorial event to mark the 50th anniversary of the massacre.
The German interior ministry said it was in talks with relatives and that the “serious consequences for the surviving dependents of the victims in non-financial and material terms” needed to be reassessed.
“A proposal for further payments to recognize the surviving relatives of the victims of the attack is planned,” the ministry told the German news agency dpa, adding that “the 50th anniversary memorial ceremony should be the occasion for a clear political classification of the attack.” events of 1972.
Members of the Palestinian Black September group broke into the Olympic Village and took Israeli athletes hostage on September 5, 1972, in order to secure the release of prisoners held by Israel and two left-wing extremists in West German prisons.
Eleven Israelis and a West German police officer died during the attack, including during a failed rescue attempt.
According to the Ministry of Internal Affairs, immediately after the attack, Germany made payments to the relatives of the victims in the amount of about 4.19 million marks (about 2 million euros or 2.09 million dollars). In 2002, the surviving relatives received another 3 million euros, according to dpa.
The claim for compensatory payments in the amount of about 40 million marks cited serious errors in the police operation, but was rejected due to the statute of limitations.
In Israel, Ilana Romano, widow of Yosef Romano, a weightlifter who was one of the first Israelis to be killed, told public TV channel Kan on Tuesday that Germany’s current offer of reparations is “degrading” and rejected by surviving victims.
“The proposal is humiliating and we stand by our position that we are boycotting [anniversary] ceremony,” she said, adding that Germany “left us to the dogs.” They mistreated us for 50 years.”
“They decided to take charge – very nice after 50 years,” Romano said, calling for proper compensation for families, “not a dime.”
Anki Spitzer, widow of Andre Spitzer, the fencing coach of the Israeli Olympic team who was killed in the attack, also rejected the amount offered by Germany.
“The amount we were offered is insulting,” Spitzer told newspaper group RedaktionsNetzwerk Deutschland on Wednesday. “We are angry and disappointed.”
The newspaper, citing the families of the victims, said that Germany had offered the families 10 million euros, including payments that had already been made in the past.
The German government has not publicly disclosed how much money it has offered.
“We never wanted to talk about money publicly,” Spitzer said, “but now we have to.”
If the current offer remains in place, Spitzer said the relatives will not come to Munich to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the attack in early September.
Demands to release previously unreleased files about the attack were granted last month when Bavarian officials said they would release any secret files in southern Germany.