By David Gold

Munich 40_years_memorial_Sept_5September 5 - A ceremony to mark the 40th anniversary of the murder of 11 Israeli athletes and a German policeman by Palestinian terrorists at the Munich 1972 Olympics has taken place at Füerstenfeldbruck military airport.

The airport is the site where most of the athletes were murdered by members of the Black September group, who took their victims hostage from the Athletes' Village on the night of September 5, 1972.

German Interior Minister Hans-Peter Friedrich, Bavarian Prime Minister Horst Seehofer, German Olympic Committee chief and International Olympic Committee (IOC) vice-president Thomas Bach and members of Munich's Jewish community were at the airport. 

Bach said: "This afternoon, we express our revulsion, our terror, our never-ending grief.

"We remember the eleven Israeli Olympic athletes as well as the German police officer who lost their lives here in such a terrible way.

"We include in this commemoration the victims' families, and share their pain.

"The National Olympic Committee of Israel deserves the highest respect and highest recognition."

"That day wasn't an attack against Israel, wasn't an attack against Jews," added Charlotte Knobloch, head of Munich's Jewish community.

"It was an attack against us all.

Germany Commemorates_Victims_Of_1972_Olympic_Games_Attack_Set_5A large crowd attends the memorial service commemorating the 40th anniversary of the 1972 Munich Olympics terrorist attack at the airport in Füerstenfeldbruck

"Against the Olympic idea, the vision of freedom and peace for all human beings."

Deputy Prime Minister Silvan Shalom, led an Israeli presence which included Israeli Olympic Committee President Zvi Varshaviak, Shmuel Lalkin, the manager of the Israeli delegation in 1972 and relatives of the victims.

"A few hours ago, we laid a wreath at the Olympic Village," said Varshaviak.

"There began the journey of a murderous terror gang that here, in this place where we stand, ended exactly 40 years ago.

"Eleven athletes, coaches and referees, who had travelled to the Olympic Games in Munich in 1972 with the hope of an encounter of friendship, solidarity and peace attend, returned home to Israel in coffins.

"Forty years have passed, and now is the time, here and now, to repay the moral debt that the Olympic movement has to the eleven victims and their families.

"It is our duty to remember and not to forget."

Also among the Israeli delegation was Dan Alon, a fencer who survived the Munich attack.

Jacques Rogge_addresses_a_Olympic_Munich_memorial_event_Sept_5Jacques Rogge addresses an Olympic Munich memorial event during the London 2012 Games

He said: "We are coming here to remember, but also to see the future, that it will not happen again.

"That's why we are making these kind of ceremonies, to forget about the terror and to hope that in the future we do not have any more terror and we will be all safe."

A ceremony where a wreath was laid was also held earlier at Munich's former Olympic Village, involving the Mayor of Munich, survivor Henry Hershkovic and Bach (pictured top).

Throughout Bavaria flags were ordered to be flown at half mast.

Prior to London 2012, pressure had mounted for a minute's silence in honour of the Munich victims to be held at the Games' Opening Ceremony.

This was resisted.

Instead a moment's silence was held to remember the 52 commuters murdered by terrorists on London's underground the day after the city won the right to host the Games in 2005.

This was taken by some as a snub to the memory of the Munich victims.

At a memorial ceremony held by the Israeli Olympic Committee (COI) during the 2012 Games IOC President Jacques Rogge was accused of not agreeing to a minute's silence because the murdered athletes were "Israelis and Jews".

The IOC have a permanent memorial to the Israeli athletes in the Olympic Museum in Lausanne.

Rogge also paid tribute to the Israeli athletes at a ceremony in the London 2012 Olympic Village.

Contact the writer of this story at [email protected]

Related stories
August 2012: "Shame on you" IOC President told by widow of Munich Massacre victim
July 2012: Widows step up campaign for minute's silence in London for Munich victims
July 2012: No minute's silence for 1972 Munich murder victims at London 2012, confirms Rogge
July 2012: David Gold - A minute's silence should honour victims murdered in Munich 1972 massacre
July 2012: Black September reminds us that the £1 billion London 2012 security budget is worthwhile