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Tribute to victims of '72 Olympics massacre

Hundreds have gathered in Munich to commemorate the 40th anniversary of the 1972 Olympics massacre. Representatives of the Jewish community and the German government spoke about the tragedy's meaning decades later.

Mourners travelled to Fürstenfeldbruck air base outside of Munich on Wednesday to pay tribute to victims of the 1972 Olympics Massacre. Members of the Israeli Olympic team, who had been taken hostage by members of the Palestinian terrorist organization "Black September", were killed at the site on September 5, 1972, during a botched rescue operation.

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Germany remembers the 1972 Munich Olympic attack

About 600 guests attended, according to the news agency AFP. The head of Munich's Jewish community, Charlotte Knobloch, spoke at the ceremony.

"That day wasn't an attack against Israel, wasn't an attack against Jews," said Knobloch. "It was an attack against us all. Against the Olympic idea, the vision of freedom and peace for all human beings."

But the President of the Central Council of Jews in Germany, Dieter Graumann, used the occasion to express his anger at the mishandling of the situation by German authorities.

"I will never forget 'The Games must go on' of [the late International Olympic Committee President] Avery Brundage," Graumann said. "I understood the words as, 'Who cares that the Jews are gone?'"

Members of the Palestinian terrorist organization "Black September" broke into the Israeli team's apartment in the Olympic village on September 5, 1972. They killed two members of the Israeli team and took the remaining men hostage in exchange for the release of hundreds of Palestinian prisoners.

After negotiations with authorities, the Palestinians and Israelis travelled to Fürstenfeldbruck the same day. A botched rescue operation ended with the death of all nine Israeli athletes, five of the eight Palestinian hostage-takers, and one German police officer.

Germany did not intend to forget what had happened, one of Fürstenfeldbruck's local leaders, Thomas Karmasin, told the mourners, adding that "the process of rememberance is still going on."

"We promise to keep the memory alive," said Karmasin.

kms/jr (AFPE, dpa)

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