The massacre happened on his home turf, and now the German Foreign Minister has added his name to a growing list of leading politicians demanding a minute of silence during the upcoming Olympics in London to remember the Israelis killed during the 1972 Games.
“Forty years ago, 11 Israeli athletes were murdered at the Summer Olympic Games in Munich,” Guido Westerwelle wrote in a letter to Jacques Rogge, the president of the International Olympic Committee (IOC), on Tuesday. “This tragic terrorist attack in my country was directed not only at the Israeli Olympic team. It was also an attack on the Olympic Games and the Olympic idea of promoting peace and friendship among the nations.”
‘This tragic attack in my country was directed not only at the Israeli team. It was also an attack on the Olympic Games and the Olympic idea of promoting peace and friendship’
The German foreign minister says he recognized that the IOC has not forgotten the victims of the attack, perpetrated by Palestinian terrorists, and that the focus of the London Olympics must be the sports competition in the arena. Yet he appealed to Rogge for “a moment’s pause at an appropriate time” during the Games, which start on July 27, 40 years after Munich. A minute of silence would be “a humanitarian gesture and a fitting way to send the message that violence and terror are incompatible with the Olympic idea,” Westerwelle wrote.
So far, the IOC has steadfastly rejected the proposal.
“What happened in the Olympic Village in Munich should not cast a pall over the London Games, yet neither should it be forgotten,” Westerwelle wrote to Rogge. “What I ask of you is to raise this matter again in the International Olympic Committee.”
Westerwelle also wrote that Germany “looks back with grief and anguish on the tragedy of Munich” and that “our thoughts are with the victims and their families as well as with the Israeli team members who survived.”
In recent days, the Israeli campaign, spearheaded by Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon and the widows of the murdered athletes, to convince the IOC to hold a minute of silence for the Israeli victims has gained steam in the international arena.
Major international newspapers have covered the campaign, and senior politicians from several Western countries endorsed the idea, including the Canadian House of Commons, the US Senate, and the London municipal Assembly. Earlier this week, the Australian parliament, including the prime minister and the opposition leader, unanimously voted in favor of a motion calling for a memorial moment during the Games’ opening ceremony.