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German Government’s Close, post-Attack Relationship with Perpetrators of the 1972 Olympics Massacre

[1]COMMENT: In recent, past dis­cus­sion of the 1972 Olympics mas­sacre, we have high­light­ed how the Ger­man gov­ern­ment had pri­or warn­ing [2] of the attacks, yet took no sig­nif­i­cant secu­ri­ty pro­ce­dures, how the Black Sep­tem­ber ter­ror­ists received aid in the logis­ti­cal plan­ning [3] for the attack by Ger­man neo-Nazis, and how the chief of secu­ri­ty for the attacks was alleged to have staged ter­ror­ist inci­dents [4] to be blamed on the left, as well as pro­vid­ing an ali­bi for Karl­heinz Hoff­man [5], head of the Nazi group that exe­cut­ed the 1980 Okto­ber­fest bomb­ing in Munich [6].

We have also seen how the Ger­man domes­tic intel­li­gence and law enforce­ment agen­cies main­tain a dis­turbing­ly cozy rela­tion­ship [7] with neo-Nazi orga­ni­za­tions.

Inter­est­ing­ly, the Ger­man diplo­mat (Wal­ter Nowak) han­dling much of the dis­cus­sion with the Black Sep­tem­ber ter­ror­ists has a back­ground sug­ges­tive of involve­ment with the ver­triebene groups, one of the most salient aspects of the Under­ground Reich [8].

The Ger­many Watch blog has a wor­thy update on the 1972 Olympics inves­ti­ga­tion, accessed in the sec­ond excerpt below. 

That post rais­es a num­ber of inter­est­ing ques­tions, includ­ing:

At a min­i­mum, it is appar­ent that the Ger­mans took no sig­nif­i­cant steps to inter­dict the ter­ror­ist attack and it is dif­fi­cult to avoid the view that the Under­ground Reich may very well have been com­plic­it in the attack

“Germany’s Secret Con­tacts to Pales­tin­ian Ter­ror­ists” by Felix Bohr, Gun­ther Latsch and Klaus Wiegrefe; Der Spiegel; 8/28/2012. [9]

EXCERPT: Eleven Israelis and one Ger­man police offi­cer died in the Munich mas­sacre of 1972, when Pales­tin­ian ter­ror­ists took Israeli ath­letes hostage at the Olympics. Now, gov­ern­ment doc­u­ments sug­gest that Ger­many main­tained secret con­tacts with the orga­niz­ers of the attack for years after­ward and appeased the Pales­tini­ans to pre­vent fur­ther blood­shed on Ger­man soil. . . .

. . . .Wal­ter Nowak, 48, the then Ger­man ambas­sador to Lebanon, con­demned the Israeli action [killing some of the per­pe­tra­tors of the 1972 Olympics attack], say­ing that the dead Pales­tini­ans were among the most “ratio­nal and respon­si­ble” mem­bers of the PLO. A day after the retal­ia­tory strike, the out­raged diplo­mat wrote a let­ter to gov­ern­ment author­i­ties in Bonn, the then-Ger­man cap­i­tal, say­ing that it was “not to be ruled out” that the Israelis had killed Abu Youssef and the oth­ers to hin­der the peace process in the Mid­dle East. “Those who don’t want to nego­ti­ate are both­ered by those they might be expect­ed to face in nego­ti­a­tions,” he wrote.

Nowak’s idio­syn­cratic assess­ment stemmed from the mis­sion the ambas­sador was pur­su­ing at the time. Nowak had met with Abu Youssef, one of the founders of Black Sep­tem­ber, about a week before his death. In the two-hour con­ver­sa­tion, he offered Abu Youssef and oth­er back­ers of the Munich attack the prospect of cre­at­ing “a new basis of trust” between them and the Ger­man gov­ern­ment. There was even talk of a secret meet­ing in Cairo between then For­eign Min­is­ter Wal­ter Scheel, a mem­ber of the lib­eral Free Demo­c­ra­tic Par­ty (FDP), and Abu Youssef.

The Munich attack had occurred only six months ear­lier. Despite the still-vivid images of masked ter­ror­ists on the bal­conies of the Olympic Vil­lage and a burned-out heli­copter on the tar­mac at the NATO air­base at Fürsten­feld­bruck, there was already active but secret diplo­matic com­mu­ni­ca­tion between Ger­mans and Pales­tini­ans. West Ger­man rep­re­sen­ta­tives were talk­ing to men like Abu Youssef, Ali Salameh and Amin al-Hin­di, all of them mas­ter­minds of the Munich mur­ders. Even the Ger­man Fed­eral Crim­i­nal Police Office (BKA), which is oblig­ated to pros­e­cute crim­i­nals, was involved in meet­ings, accord­ing to doc­u­ments in the Polit­i­cal Archives of the Ger­man For­eign Min­istry and the Fed­eral Archive in the west­ern city of Koblenz, which SPIEGEL has now ana­lyzed. . . .

. . . . In the com­ing weeks, dur­ing events to mark the 40th anniver­sary of the attack, the ques­tion will once again be raised as to why the Ger­man courts nev­er tried any of the per­pe­tra­tors or back­ers of the Munich mas­sacre. The doc­u­ments that are now avail­able sug­gest one answer in par­tic­u­lar: West Ger­many didn’t want to call them to account.

In the first few weeks after the attack, Ger­man gov­ern­ment offices in Bonn were imbued with a spir­it of appease­ment. From the Israeli per­spec­tive, it felt like a bit­ter irony of his­tory that it involved Munich — a city that became a sym­bol of the West­ern pow­ers’ appease­ment of Hitler after the Munich Agree­ment per­mit­ting Nazi Germany’s annex­a­tion of the Sude­ten­land was signed there in 1938.

Although the Munich attack involved mul­ti­ple mur­ders, the lan­guage in the files odd­ly down­plays what hap­pened there. Then-Chan­cel­lor Brandt is quot­ed as say­ing that the Olympic mas­sacre was a “crazy inci­dent,” while Paul Frank, a state sec­re­tary in the For­eign Min­istry, refers to it sim­ply as the “events in Munich.” Diplo­mats and senior Inte­rior Min­istry offi­cials upgrad­ed the sta­tus of Black Sep­tem­ber by call­ing it a “resis­tance group” — as if its acts of ter­ror had been direct­ed against Hitler and not Israeli civil­ians.

At the For­eign Min­istry, in par­tic­u­lar, some offi­cials were appar­ently very sym­pa­thetic to the Pales­tini­ans. Wal­ter Nowak, the Ger­man ambas­sador to Lebanon, once told Abu Youssef that the Ger­mans were a peo­ple “with a sub­stan­tial num­ber of refugees,” because of the fact that eth­nic Ger­mans had been expelled from parts of Cen­tral and East­ern Europe after World War II. (Nowak him­self was born in Sile­sia, which is now part of Poland, back when it belonged to Ger­many.) This, he added, made them more under­stand­ing of the Pales­tin­ian sit­u­a­tion than oth­er nations. . . .

. . . .  It is clear that the Fed­eral Crim­i­nal Police Office (BKA) coop­er­ated with the PLO, as evi­denced by a telex from the embassy in Beirut report­ing on a meet­ing between Hin­di and a BKA offi­cial on June 14, 1980. Accord­ing to the mes­sage, Hin­di com­plained that the press had got­ten wind of the con­nec­tions between the PLO and the BKA. He also claimed that the leak was on the Ger­man side. An indis­cre­tion like this could jeop­ar­dize coop­er­a­tion, Hin­di threat­ened, telling the BKA offi­cial that either the two orga­ni­za­tions “con­tinue work­ing togeth­er in secret, or not at all.”

Hin­di died of can­cer in 2010, and most of the oth­ers behind the Munich mas­sacre are now dead, as well. One of the three ter­ror­ists whose release the PLO secured by hijack­ing a Lufthansa flight occa­sion­ally appears in doc­u­men­tary films. There is still a Ger­man war­rant out for his arrest, but there is noth­ing to sug­gest that Ger­man author­i­ties have ever tried to find him.

Giv­en these cir­cum­stances, there is every indi­ca­tion that he will not be tried for the mur­der of the 11 Israelis and a Ger­man police offi­cer, at least not in a Ger­man court.

“Munich 1972: Fur­ther Dis­clo­sures”; Ger­many Watch; 8/30/2012. [10]

EXCERPT: . . . . Here are just some of the high­lights;

When the Black Sep­tem­ber ter­ror­ists left the Olympic site in heli­copters in order to fly to the air­port to meet their plane, there were 5 ter­ror­ists.

When the stand-off and shoot­ings hap­pened at the air­port, there were sud­den­ly 8 ter­ror­ists. (Ital­ics added.)

The 3 extra ter­ror­ists took the Israeli Mossad Chief, who was present at the air­port, by sur­prise. He ques­tioned the Ger­mans on this, and did not get a clear expla­na­tion. (Because they were the Ger­man con­tacts, already in the Heli­copters wait­ing at the Olympic site. It was these three that sur­vived the shoot­ing and were lat­er released — the oth­ers were expend­able).

Despite requests for secu­ri­ty of the Israeli team before the inci­dent, Ger­man Police laughed off the need for secu­ri­ty for the team say­ing it was “not in the Olympic spir­it”.

Despite know­ing their own plan for sup­pos­ed­ly retriev­ing the hostages includ­ed snip­ing the ter­ror­ists at the air­port, the Ger­mans did not bring any rifles. They were armed with pis­tols and machi­nen­pis­tol [sub-machine guns–D.E.]. This meant that when they opened fire, “Ger­man bul­lets were spray­ing about”, poten­tial­ly includ­ing the pos­si­bil­i­ty that some of the ath­letes were actu­al­ly shot by Ger­mans. . . . (Ital­ics added.)