(JTA) — Family members of the victims of the massacre of 11 Israeli Olympians during the 1972 Games in Munich only learned the horrifying details of how they were treated 20 years later.
The Israelis — athletes and coaches — were beaten and, in at least one case, castrated during the 20 hours that they were held by members of the Palestinian terror group Black September, The New York Times reported.
Ilana Romano and Ankie Spitzer, widows of two of the Olympians, discussed the details of the cruelty of the treatment in interviews with the Times that were published Tuesday.
They first viewed photos taken during the hostage siege in September 1992, at the home of their lawyer. At the time, they said, they agreed never to discuss them publicly.
Prior to that viewing, German authorities had denied that the photos and hundreds of pages of reports on the attack and the failed rescue attempt existed.
The women say they are coming forward with the information now in order to gain public and official acknowledgement for their murdered husbands and all the members of the team.
According to the German documents and photos, weightlifter Yossef Romano was shot trying to overpower the terrorists early in the attack. He was then left to die in front of the other hostages and castrated, the Times reported. It is not known if he was castrated before or after he died.
Other hostages were beaten and sustained serious injuries, including broken bones, Spitzer told the newspaper. Her husband, fencing coach Andre Spitzer, and another hostage died during the siege in the Olympic Village; the rest were killed during a rescue attempt at the airport.
After decades of failed attempts to have the murdered Israeli athletes recognized during the games, the new International Olympic Committee president, Thomas Bach, has agreed to a moment of remembrance during the 2016 Olympics in Rio for all athletes who have died at the Olympics.
Spitzer and Romano are lobbying to have the Munich athletes remembered separately, since their deaths were as a result of a terror attack.
The IOC reportedly has also agreed to help finance a permanent memorial to the murdered athletes in Munich.