Federal Minister of the Interior Nancy Faeser appoints commission to reappraise the attack at the Munich Olympics in 1972
21 April 2023
Eight internationally renowned scholars will carry out a thorough historical reappraisal of the attack on the Israeli team as well as the background and aftermath of the attack
Today, Federal Minister of the Interior Nancy Faeser appointed the members of an international commission to examine and reappraise the attack on the Israeli team during the Olympic Games in Munich in 1972. The commission is comprised of eight internationally renowned scholars, all of whom are long-standing experts in the relevant field of research. The commission will create a comprehensive scholarly account and assessment of the events on the basis of its research. The Leibniz Institute for Contemporary History (IfZ) will carry out an accompanying research project and will assist the commission in its work. In appointing the commission, the Federal Government is fulfilling the final part of the comprehensive approach agreed with the victims’ families upon the 50th anniversary of the attacks.
Federal Minister of the Interior Nancy Faeser said:
“We can never undo the immeasurable suffering which the family members of the victims of the 1972 Munich Olympics attack have experienced. The attack has left deep wounds. It is shameful that agonising questions were left unresolved for far too long. For too many years, there was a lack of understanding or reappraisal of the events, transparency about them or acceptance of responsibility for them. We as the current Federal Government are keenly aware of this, and it has informed our actions, especially when it comes to supporting the family members and finally conducting a thorough reappraisal of what happened. To this end, today I appointed a commission of eight superb and internationally renowned researchers. The commission will also rigorously examine the period before and after the attacks. It is particularly important to me for their work to also thoroughly address the treatment of the family members after the attack as well as issues related to the culture of remembrance. Because we want to learn from this history, and we must learn from it. We must treat people whose lives have been dramatically altered by attacks with greater empathy and support.”
Ankie Spitzer, one of the family members of the victims of the 1972 attack, said:
“The families of the victims are very pleased that our request to open the archives and establish a commission of historians has been honoured. We are grateful to the distinguished members of the commission that they are willing to re-examine the murderous attack and its aftermath. This is of the utmost importance to the families and hopefully will bring justice to history. Our deep gratitude to the individuals and institutions who made this possible!”
Early on 5 September 1972, members of a Palestinian terrorist group stormed the Israeli team’s quarters in the Olympic village in Munich. They shot dead two members of the Israeli Olympic team and took nine others hostage. In a botched attempt to free the hostages that night at Fürstenfeldbruck airfield, all of the hostages, a Bavarian police officer and five of the eight terrorists were killed. The three surviving attackers were subsequently arrested and were released just a few weeks later in the course of the hijacking of Lufthansa Flight 615. Despite numerous academic publications on these events, to this day many questions about them remain unresolved. On the occasion of the 50th anniversary of the attack, Germany’s Federal Government agreed to appoint a commission for the historical reappraisal of the attack.
The members of the commission are:
- Prof. Dr. Ofer Ashkenazi
Professor of History and Director of the Richard Koebner Minerva Center for German History at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem
- Prof. Dr. Michael Brenner
Professor of Jewish History and Culture at Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität in Munich and Director of the Center for Israel Studies at American University in Washington, D.C.
- Prof. Dr. Shlomo Shpiro
Director of the Europa Institute and holder of the Paterson Chair in Security and Intelligence at Bar-Ilan University in Ramat Gan, Israel
- Prof. Dr. Margit Szöllösi-Janze
Retired Professor for Contemporary History at Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität in Munich
- Prof. Dr. Petra Terhoeven
Professor of European History and Cultural History at Georg-August-Universität Göttingen
- Prof. Dr. Shulamit Volkov
Professor emerita of Modern European History at Tel Aviv University
- Prof. Dr. Klaus Weinhauer
Professor of Modern History at Bielefeld University
- Prof. Dr. Christopher Young
Professor of Modern and Medieval German Studies at the University of Cambridge
The work and findings of the research project will be documented transparently for the public. Over the course of the research project, experts with additional expertise on various topics will also be included in its work. The first meeting of the project is planned for autumn 2023, at a time close to the 51st anniversary of the attack.