BERLIN – A prominent German professor claimed recently that the 11 Israeli sportsmen killed during the 1972 Munich Olympics knew of the coming terror attack in advance and decided to sacrifice themselves for the sake of their country.
In a recent lecture, Prof. Arnd Krüger of the University of Göttingen, who covered the Munich Olympics as a journalist and claimed to have known some of the murdered Israeli athletes, compared the decision made by the sportsmen to stay in the Olympic village despite the known threat to their safety to the decision made by the Jews to stay in Hebron during the 1929 Palestine riots.
Krüger, reported some of the attendants in the lecture, even went as far as to suggest that the athletes knew of the impending attack and decided to stay on the premises and sacrifice themselves for the sake of Israel's interests.
Speaking to Yedioth Ahronoth on Saturday, Krüger denied ever saying he believed the Israeli mission to the Munich Olympics knew that it would be targeted, but added that "one has to assume that the sportsmen who stayed in the village knew it had poor security.
"In fact, the security was so substandard, that it was practically an open invitation to terrorists. The Israeli journalists reported about that. The athletes spoke about it. One has to wonder why they decided to stay anyway."
'Dehumanizing Israel in the worst way'
Other Israelis on the Munich delegation, added Krüger, knew the situation on the grounds was not safe, "But they believed no harm would come to them. I'm not a racist or an anti-Semite, I'm just trying to understand what really happened."
Nevertheless, Krüger's statement stirred up quit the controversy in Germany. The German Sports Lecturers Union has declared it would be calling a special session in the next few days, to discuss the appropriate disciplinary measures it is going to take against Krüger.
The Israeli Embassy in Germany demanded some action be taken against him, saying his statement "is one of the worst possible ways to dehumanize Israel."
Ilan Mor, Israel’s deputy ambassador to Germany, called the statement "a new kind of anti-Semitism, which has become more and more common in Germany, and is disguised by so-called criticism of Israel."
Esther Roth-Shachamarov, one of the sportswomen who took part in the Munich Olympics, was stunned by Krüger's statement.
"This is absurd. I've always heard about blood libels against the Jews, but now I've witnessed it too. It's a little like denying the Holocaust," she said
Nir Guntage contributed to this report