Katzav remembers 1972Olympic dead in Munich

1st June 2005, Comments 0 comments

1 June 2005, MUNICH - Israeli President Moshe Katzav commemorated on Wednesday in Munich the Israeli athletes killed by terrorists at the 1972 Olympic Games, laying a wreath at a monument in the southern German city's Olympic Park.

1 June 2005

MUNICH - Israeli President Moshe Katzav commemorated on Wednesday in Munich the Israeli athletes killed by terrorists at the 1972 Olympic Games, laying a wreath at a monument in the southern German city's Olympic Park.

On the third day of his state visit to Germany, he had earlier toured Berlin's new Holocaust monument, which had had Nazi swastikas daubed on it only hours before his visit, according to a police statement.

The four swastikas, apparently written with a heavy marker-style pen, were found by police at 7 am local time during a security sweep through the memorial prior to Katzav's 8:30 am visit.

A private security service which guards the memorial removed the swastikas before Katzav arrived, said the statement.

At talks in Munich with the premier of Bavaria, Edmund Stoiber, the Israeli president said Jewish sites must be kept as a witness to the Holocaust. It was "very important that both our peoples learn the lessons of the Second World War".

Stoiber assured him that Germans would keep alive their memory of the "darkest chapter in German history".

Katzav spoke of his "satisfaction" at the way Germany was combatting anti-Semitism and racism. Germany had an honoured place in the international community and was "a true friend to the state of Israel".

At the Munich ceremony, conducted in Hebrew, the names of the victims were recited. The wreath was in white and blue, the colours of both the Israeli and the Bavarian flags. Security was tight, with three police helicopters circling the scene.

Palestinian terrorists burst into the summer games in September 1972, taking hostage 11 of Israel's wrestlers. The attack and a bungled attempt to liberate the hostages led to the deaths of the athletes, five terrorists and a policeman.

Earlier Katzav said in a TV interview he favoured banning neo-Nazi and rightist parties in Germany.

"I believe the only possibility... is to declare neo-Nazis to be against the law," said Katzav in an interview with ARD television.

Right-wing extremists must be pushed to the fringes of society, Katzav said.

The Israeli president expressed concern over election gains by the anti-Semitic National Democratic Party of Deutschland (NPD) in Saxony and the German People's Union (DVU) in Brandenburg during regional elections last year.

This, he warned, could help legitimise such parties.

Germany's domestic intelligence service says about 40,000 people are organised in rightist and neo-Nazi parties and movements, out of a total German population of 82 million.

Turning to the sensitive question of Jewish immigration to Germany, President Katzav underlined that Jews had the right to settle in Germany.

This is a sharply different view than that taken by the former Israeli president, Ezer Weizman, who during a visit to Germany in the mid-1990s sharply criticised Jews coming to live in Germany.

"I believe in German democracy 60 years after the Holocaust and I therefore believe in the right of Jews to settle in Germany," said Katzav.

Katzav added that he would of course be delighted to welcome all of Germany's Jews to Israel.

Germany's Jewish community has grown from about 30,000 in 1990 to over 100,000 today, largely thanks to immigration from the former Soviet Union.

DPA

Subject: German news

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