The widow of one of the murdered spoke for most of the victims’ relatives: “Anyway, I think we’ve overcome the obstacle and we’ll probably go (to Munich) too,” said Ilano Romano, her husband, the weightlifter Yossef Romano how ten other Israeli athletes were murdered by Palestinian terrorists during the 1972 Munich Olympics. Romano was reacting to a new offer of compensation from the federal government to the relatives – just in time before the victims are to be commemorated next Monday on the 50th anniversary of the attack in the Bavarian capital.

Only the federal government’s decision to promise the victims’ families a total of 28 million euros in compensation payments made it possible to get out of the blockade. The lawyer for the victims’ families, Gerhart Baum, confirmed this total, which was first reported by the “Süddeutsche Zeitung” and “Spiegel”. Previous German compensation payments of around 4.5 million euros are to be taken into account.

During the assassination attempt by the Palestinian terrorist group Black September at the Summer Olympics in Munich on September 5 and 6, 1972, eleven Israeli athletes and supervisors as well as a German policeman were killed. The attackers first took hostages in the Olympic Village of Athletes.

The then Interior Minister Hans-Dietrich Genscher (FDP) offered to be a substitute hostage – in vain. Two members of the team from Israel were murdered in the Olympic Village, the others died during a failed liberation operation at the nearby Fürstenfeldbruck airfield.

The German authorities, as it turned out later, had disregarded warnings of a possible terrorist act, were completely inadequately prepared for the challenge and made mistakes with fatal consequences. Among other things, simple patrol officers should eliminate the assassins. Only after the terrible experiences in Munich was the German Federal Police’s anti-terrorist unit GSG9 founded.

The dispute over compensation threatened to cast a dark shadow over the event commemorating the terrorist act and thus damage Germany’s high reputation in Israel, which has remained unchanged for years.

In any case, the relatives had announced that they would boycott the commemoration ceremony without any accommodation from the federal government and without an apology from Germany for the omissions at the time. It was considered certain that Israel’s President Izchak Herzog would also have stayed away from the commemoration in Munich.

However, the political leaders of both countries had previously assured themselves that they wanted to avoid disrupting relations even without an agreement. So Herzog, who will speak in the Bundestag next Tuesday, did not endorse the demands of the relatives. Nevertheless, it would probably have been perceived as the second scandal in German-Israeli relations within a short period of time.

Because before that, Chancellor Olaf Scholz (SPD) had provoked annoyance with Jerusalem: in his presence two weeks ago, Palestinian President Mahmud Abbas unchallengedly relativized the murder of the Jews in World War II and accused Israel of a multiple “Holocaust” against Palestinians. Scholz only reacted afterwards and then distanced himself from Abbas’ statements in a telephone call to Prime Minister Jair Lapid.

According to the “Süddeutsche Zeitung”, Federal President Frank-Walter Steinmeier will now apologize to the families of the victims for Germany’s failures. In addition, the German side has agreed to set up a commission of German and Israeli historians to work through the events in Munich independently and transparently.

It is not only about mistakes in the preparation of the games and the unsuccessful liberation action, but also about the suspicion that there could have been some kind of secret agreement between the federal government and the Palestinians to prevent further attacks.

The TV magazine “Report Munich” reported on Tuesday that German security authorities were making arrangements for the release and deportation of the three surviving terrorists in custody – and that even before seven weeks after the attack a Lufthansa plane on a flight from Beirut was kidnapped with the aim of extorting them.

Earlier German compensation offers of around five million euros had been rejected by representatives of the victims’ families as “tips” and “insults” and referred to “international standards” for compensation amounts and allegedly demanded around ten million euros for each victim.

Steinmeier and Herzog welcomed the agreement together: “The agreement cannot heal all wounds. But it opens a door to each other,” said the two presidents. The German state acknowledges its responsibility and recognizes “the terrible suffering of the murdered and their relatives, which we want to commemorate next week”.