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Sunday, 11 August, 2002, 12:48 GMT 13:48 UK
Munich Olympic victims remembered
Israeli athletes at memorial to those killed in Munich
Current Israeli athletes joined the ceremony
The widow of one of the 11 Israeli athletes and officials killed at the 1972 Munich Olympics has used a memorial service to criticise the German authorities' handling of the hostage-taking.


We who have walked the long, lonely dark road for the last 30 years will not forget the German authorities who did nothing to rescue you

Ankie Spitzer
At a commemoration in Munich, Ankie Spitzer, widow of the team's fencing coach, condemned the "incompetence and arrogance" of the German response to the attack by Palestinian militants.

She also criticised the Olympic committee for "refusing to commemorate" those killed.

However, others were upbeat about the ceremony, which took place a day after the Israeli pole-vaulter won a gold medal at the European Athletics championships, being held in Munich's Olympic stadium.

Botched rescue

"We will never be able to draw a line under the past," Mrs Spitzer told the BBC. "Nobody ever took responsibility and the world doesn't want to commemorate what happened here in Munich".

"We who have walked the long, lonely dark road for the last 30 years will not forgive the Palestinian terrorists who murdered you and we will not forget the German authorities who did nothing to rescue you," she said at the memorial.

On 5 September 1972, eight members of the Palestinian militant group Black September raided the Israeli team headquarters.

Police marksman
A police rescue attempt went disastrously wrong
Two athletes were killed in their rooms, while nine others were taken hostage as the Palestinians demanded the release of political prisoners.

Over the next 24 hours, the tense stand-off between gunmen and police was played out in front of television viewers worldwide.

Three helicopters provided by the German authorities took the Israelis and the gunmen to a military airfield outside Munich, supposedly to catch a flight out of Germany.

Then a rescue attempt by the German police went disastrously wrong and ended in a gunfight.

The nine Israeli hostages died, along with five of the eight Black September gunmen and a policeman.

Poignant triumph

"We are not looking for revenge... the only thing we want is justice," Mrs Spitzer said.

Alex Averbukh
The triumph of Alex Averbukh was emotional
"Eleven Israeli athletes came to the Olympic Games with a dream to be part of the festival of love and brotherhood and they came home in a coffin."

The triumph of Israeli pole-vaulter Alex Averbukh in Saturday's European Athletic Championships was an emotional moment for the Israelis.

"It was unbelievable," said team-mate Nili Abramski.

"To think that he did it in the same stadium, it was the most amazing thing," she said.

"All the German spectators stayed and they were standing for the national anthem of Israel," she said.

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
The BBC's Richard Slee
"Attending were many of the relatives of the dead athletes"
See also:

10 Aug 02 | European Athletics
03 Sep 00 | Olympics2000
10 Aug 00 | History
Internet links:


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