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Munich security worker arrested for making Nazi salute

August 18, 2022

Police in Munich arrested a security steward at the European Athletics Championships for making a Hitler salute toward a group of Israeli athletes.

The Olympic Park in Munich
The Olympic Park in Munich, where the incident took placeImage: Eibner-Pressefoto/picture-alliance

Police in the Bavarian capital, Munich, on Wednesday said they had arrested a man on the sidelines of the European Athletics Championships for making a Hitler salute.

The straight-armed gesture, which was a used as a greeting in Nazi Germany, was outlawed shortly after the end of World War II in both Germany and Austria.

What led to the arrest?

Officers had reportedly seen the individual, a 19-year-old from Berlin, make the salute towards a group of Israeli athletes on Tuesday evening.

"One of the four security guards present was observed at around 7:20 pm making a National Socialist gesture (forbidden 'Hitler salute')," the statement said.

He was detained and charged with "use of symbols of unconstitutional organizations" before being released pending further proceedings.

The staff member, as well as three colleagues, were immediately banned from all European Championships events.

The Israeli athletes had not noticed the incident themselves. The 16-member group of canoeists and rowers had visited memorials to the 1972 assassination on Tuesday evening, just before the incident happened.

The incident took place at the city's Olympic Park, which was the scene of the 1972 Olympic assassination in which 11 Israeli athletes and a German police officer were murdered. The games are taking place in the 50th anniversary year of the killings by Palestinian terror group Black September.

Athletics venue condemns 'unspeakable incident'

Marion Schöne, head of the organizing committee and the Olympic Park, condemned the anti-Semitic incident "in the strongest possible terms."

She said the Olympic Park stands "for cosmopolitanism and diversity. We welcome people from all over the world and have a special responsibility because of the 1972 assassination."

The employee was immediately dismissed by the service provider, she said. "We will not accept such deplorable actions and are glad that the police were able to arrest the perpetrator," Schöne said, "We regret this occurrence and hope that our Israeli guests continue to feel comfortable in Munich despite this unspeakable incident."

What happened in 1972?

Eight gunmen broke into the Israeli team's flat at the Olympic village on September 5, 1972.

They shot dead two Israelis and took nine others hostage, threatening to kill them unless 232 Palestinian prisoners were released.

A botched West German police response ended in tragedy, with all nine hostages killed, as well as a police officer. Five of the eight hostage-takers also died.

The issue remains sensitive. Families of those who were killed have received €4.5 million ($4.6 million) in compensation. However, they say the amount is not enough and have vowed to boycott upcoming commemorations of the tragedy.

During a visit to Berlin on Tuesday, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas further inflamed the situation when he failed to condemn the massacre and instead accused Israel of committing "50 Holocausts" against the Palestinian people.

rc/kb (AFP, SID)