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40 Years After Munich: Murdered Olympian’s ID Card is Returned

Four decades after Munich Olympics massacre, one victim's ID card is returned. German Ambassador to PA: Stop glorifying terrorists.
By Hillel Fendel
First Publish: 2/24/2011, 12:23 PM / Last Update: 2/24/2011, 12:09 PM

Emotions still run high: Four decades after the Palestinian terrorist massacre of 11 Israeli athletes at the Munich Olympics, the Olympic ID card of one of them was returned to his family.

Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon, who presided over the card-return ceremony on Wednesday at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, said, “The return of these documents to the families is more than just a humane gesture; it is of historical importance.”

He and the German Ambassador to Israel noted that the Palestinian Authority leadership must be taken to task for continuing to glorify terrorists; see below.

The card in question was hidden all these years by a German police officer in his home; after his death, it was returned by his son, Holzer Tilmann, to the Israel embassy in Germany, from where it was sent to Israel. It belonged to Israeli wrestler Eliezer Halfin. Ayalon, who had received the card from Germany, returned it to Halfin's sister, Mrs. Rima Goldwasser of Ariel in the Shomron. 

The ceremony took place in the presence of the German ambassador to Israel, Dr. Harald Kindermann, the Deputy Chair of the Israeli Olympic Committee, Aryeh Sieff, and relatives of the murdered athletes: Ilana Romano, widow of Yosef Romano, and Anki Rekhes (Shpitzer), widow of Andrei Shpitzer.

After receiving the card, Rima Goldwasser emotionally thanked Tilmann, the deputy foreign minister and the German ambassador. Ilana Romano, speaking on behalf of the victims’ families, said, “Over the years, we have been collecting every possible crumb. This is a card that Halfin held in his hand; it is a very emotional moment. I hope more documents will be found and returned to the families.”

Lowest Point in History of Sport
Sieff stressed Israel’s long, so-far-unsuccessful battle to open the Olympic Games with a moment of silence in memory of the eleven Olympic victims of Palestinian terrorism. Ayalon promised to help, and added that what happened in Munich“was the lowest point in the history of sport. What Holzer Tilmann, the policeman’s son, has done is a courageous, decent act that closes a circle. From this podium I call on the government of Germany to make every effort to locate other documents that are perhaps being held somewhere, because hundreds of documents are still missing. The return of these documents to the families is more than just a humane gesture; it is of historical importance for perpetuating the event and engraving it on the pages of history.”

Israel and the PA: Different Approaches
Ayalon noted that while “we, as a peace-loving, humane people, concern ourselves with commemorating the victims, the Palestinian leadership is busy glorifying terrorism and the murderers. When Mohammed Abu-Daoud Oudeh, one of the masterminds behind the Munich Olympics massacre, died, PA Chairman Abu Mazen praised his memory and heritage and called him his wonderful brother and a courageous leader. The Palestinian leadership is busy glorifying terrorism, thereby pushing the chances for reconciliation further away.”                                

The German ambassador to Israel reinforced Ayalon’s words and spoke out against turning terrorists into Palestinian folk heroes. Calling on the Palestinian leadership to stop glorifying terrorism, he said, “Just as terrorism must be combated, the sanctification of terrorism must be combated.”