Westerwelle calls for Munich Olympics commemoration | News | DW | 02.07.2012
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Westerwelle calls for Munich Olympics commemoration

Germany's foreign minister has called for a minute's silence to remember the victims of the terrorist attack that blighted the Munich summer Olympic Games four decades ago. Lawmakers in London agree.

German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle urged the International Olympic Committee (IOC) to hold a minute's silence at this summer's London Olympics to honor the 11 Israeli team members who were first held hostage and then murdered at the hands of Palestinian gunmen during the Munich Olympics 40 years ago, in a letter released on Monday.

Westerwelle's letter was addressed to the IOC President Jacques Rogge and dated 26 June.

"A moment's pause at a suitable point of the Olympic Summer Games in London, 40 years after Munich, would be a human gesture and a worthy signal that violence and terror have no place in the Olympic idea," the letter said.

"The events that occured in the Olympic Village in Munich shouldn't overshadow the Games in London, but neither should they be forgotten," added Westerwelle.

"This tragic terrorist attack in my country was not only against the Israeli Olympic team. It was also an attack on the Olympic Games and the Olympic ideal of peaceful international understanding and friendship."

Westerwelle's letter follows a similar demand contained in an e-mail to the head of the German Olympic Sports Federation, Thomas Bach, who is also an IOC vice president.

The e-mail, signed by more than 30 German athletes who are to take part in the London Games, says the time is right for a "big gesture from the Olympic movement."

The Munich Olympic games were held in 1972 and during the event, eight members of the Palestinian terrorist group Black September stormed the Olympic Village and captured nearly a dozen members of the Israeli team. Two were killed during the hostage-taking. The rest were killed when an attempt by German police to free the hostages alive ended in carnage.

The London Assembly also in favor

There have also been calls for a minute of silence from other quarters. The London Assembly unanimously voted last Wednesday in favor of a minute's silence for those who died.

Andrew Dismore, who submitted the motion echoed Westerwelle's sentiment that the tragedy was an international rather than a national one.

"The IOC say to have a minute's silence to commemorate these victims of terrorism would be a 'political gesture', but surely not having a minute's silence is, in itself, the political gesture," he said in a statement.

"This is not about the nationality of the victims – they were Olympians.”

There was no immediate reaction from the IOC.

sej/pfd (KNA, Reuters, AP, dpa)