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Westerwelle: Germany won't forget 1972 Olympic attacks

At a memorial ceremony in London on Monday, German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle and British Prime Minister David Cameron said the world must never forget the attacks in 1972 on Israeli athletes at the Munich Games.

One of the Palestinian militants appears masked on a balcony

Deutschland Terror in München 1972 während Olympische Spiele

Speaking in London's 800-year-old Guildhall at an event to mark the 40th anniversary of the Palestinian terror attacks on Israeli athletes and coaches at the Munich Olympic Games, Westerwelle said: "I assure you that Germany has not forgotten."

Westerwelle also emphasized that Germany would "stand by Israel," saying the recent attacks on Israeli tourists in Bulgaria showed that the terrorist threat was still a reality.

"Germany looks back in mourning. We can't bring the dead back to life, but it is our duty to honor their memory," he said at the memorial event organized by the Jewish Committee for the London Games, the National Olympic Committee of Israel and the Israeli embassy in London.

Cameron said the killings, which also claimed the life of a West German police officer in the hostage-taking by Palestinian militants, was "one of the darkest days in the history of the Olympic Games."

"It was a truly shocking act of evil. A crime against the Jewish people. A crime against humanity. A crime the world must never forget," Cameron said.

The widows of two of the athletes killed in the attack, Ankie Spitzer and Ilana Romano, had unsuccessfully campaigned for the anniversary to be marked with a minute's silence at the opening ceremony, but the request was rejected by the President of the International Olympic Committee, Jacques Rogge.

The 1972 Olympic Games were meant to show the peaceful, post-war Germany - far removed from the 1936 Berlin Olympics, which were held when Germany was ruled by Nazis.

Security was too lax, so that on September 5, the so-called Black September Palestinian militant group penetrated the athletes village and took Israeli team members hostage. The failed rescue attempt claimed the lives of 11 athletes and coaches as well as one German police officer.

ng/tj (dpa, AFP, AP)