Forty years on, a memorial is erected to the Israeli athletes killed at the 1972 Munich Olympics

by Irene Glausiusz, Office Volunteer

Yesterday, athletes of TeamGB Olympic and Paralympic teams took part in a parade through London to mark their achievements in the recent games and also to mark the end of the London 2012 Olympics and Paralympics.

Munich Olympics 1972 (©Hackney Gazette, 2012)

During this same games, after a span of forty years, or in other terms 10 Olympic Games, a memorial plaque was erected to the 11 Israeli Olympians who were kidnapped and later killed by the Palestinian terrorist group, Black September, during the 1972 Munich Olympics.

The plaque is mounted on an outside wall at the Arthaus in Hackney and the unveiling took place in the week prior to the opening of the London 2012 Olympics. The dedicatory inscription names all 11 athletes killed and includes weight-lifters, referees and coaches.

London Mayor, Boris Johnson, together with other invited guests, jointly unveiled the plaque, which was draped by both the flag of Israel and the Union flag. The Mayor said “It is entirely right that we should remember those events and let us hope that the 2012 Olympic Games are only happy and peaceful.” Eric Pickles MP Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government also spoke.

The relatives of the athletes had asked the International Olympic Committee to hold one minute’s silence in memory of the athletes at the opening ceremony of the games, but President Jacques Rogge felt that it would be inappropriate and refused the request.

Large portraits of the 11 athletes were displayed along a hallway at the Guildhall in London where a commemorative service took place on 6th August attended by Prime Minister David Cameron and Leader of the Opposition Ed Miliband.

It is a fact that there are Munich memorials at various Jewish centres worldwide. One interesting example is an abstract sculpture at the Jewish Community Campus in Rockland County USA. Created in stainless steel, it symbolises an eternal flame in the spirit of the Olympics; the base divided into 11 segments, inscribed with each of the athlete’s names. However, Martin Sugarman, Chair of the Anglo-Israel Friendship Association maintains that the London memorial is a “first” to the Munich athletes to be sited on a public building in the UK.

The Munich Olympic memorial project was spearheaded by Hackney Cllr Linda Kelly and Martin Sugarman. They also raised funds for the unveiling ceremony. The Hackney location is appropriate as one of the boroughs closest to the London 2012 Olympic Village.

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2 comments
  1. Shirley said:

    Heart-breaking. Forty years too late; but better than nothing.

  2. Anonymous said:

    I’m with you Shirley
    Ava

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