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Friday, 6 September, 2002, 11:17 GMT 12:17 UK
Families absent from Munich memorial
One of the Israeli hostages, Andre Spitzer, is held at gunpoint
Israeli athletes were taken hostage
A ceremony in Munich marking the deaths of Israeli athletes killed at the 1972 Olympic Games has been held but the victims' relatives were not present.

We need to be here with our children

Ankie Spitzer, Victim's Widow

The 30th anniversary of the massacre fell on the eve of the Jewish New Year, traditionally a time for families.

"We need to be here with our children. We don't want to be over there at this time," said Ankie Spitzer, widow of fencing official Andrei Spitzer.

Families of the victims reportedly asked commemoration organisers to postpone the ceremony but were told it was impossible.

The event was attended by political leaders and sports figures, and took place at the military airfield near Munich where German police launched their disastrous bid to free the hostages.

The Israelis, a German policeman and five Palestinian hostage-takers were killed in ensuing gun battle.

Black September

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

Two athletes were killed in their rooms, while nine others were taken hostage as the Palestinians demanded the release of political prisoners.
Black September gunman
Black September militants raided the athletes rooms

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 wrong and ended in a gunfight.

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

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 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
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