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Families Plunged into Grief

September 7, 1972
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The families of the 11 Israelis murdered by Arab terrorists in Munich spent a night of alternating hope and despair only to be plunged into utter grief this morning as messengers brought the news that their loved ones were dead. Their anguish was made even more cruel by unfounded reports from Munich earlier in the evening that all of the hostages held by the terrorists had been saved. Some families had begun to celebrate with neighbors at this news when their doorbells rang and they were told the grisly truth.

“It is impossible,” exclaimed Mrs. Kehat Shour, wife of the Israeli rifle team’s coach, when she learned this morning that her husband was among the victims. Only a few hours earlier she had heard that all the hostages were safe. There was terror in her eyes as she faced the grim delegation that brought her the news at her home-a representative of the sports organization, a town council member and a physician. They could-tall her no details of what happened in Munich, only that her husband was dead.

At Herzliah, north of Tel Aviv, lights burned all night at the home of Amitzur Shapira, an athletics coach. His wife, children and parents had been glued to their radio for almost 24 hours. At midnight their hopes rose when it was reported that the hostages were safe. But early in the morning a police car drew up in front of the Shapira home with the message of death.


At the home of Joseph Romano, a weight-lifter, mourning began at midnight when it was confirmed that he was one of the two Israelis slain by the terrorists in their pre-dawn raid yesterday on the Israeli compound at Olympic Village. The scene at the home of wrestler Mark Slavin was even more tragic. Recent emigres from Russia, his parents do not understand Hebrew. They had been told that Slavin was safe. Friends and neighbors came to congratulate them. They were in the middle of a toast when the news came that their son was dead.

The aged father of Joseph Gutfreund, a wrestling team referee, refused to believe the radio news report that the hostages were safe. “I never believed the Germans,” he said. He remained awake in his Jerusalem home waiting for a telephone call from Munich that never came. He was told of his son’s death this morning by two government officials and a physician, Mrs. Gutfreund collapsed and was treated by the doctor.

In Haifa the parents of weight-lifter Zeev Friedman were unconsolable. His mother cried hysterically. His father was silent with warm tears running down his face. At the home of the wrestler Eliezer Halfin, another emigre from Russia, there was profound bitterness among the tears. Most of the Halfin family was killed in the Nazi holocaust. The young athlete’s father said only one sentence: “The Germans enabled this once again.”

There was no one to receive the news of the death of David Berger, a weight-lifter who came to Israel only nine months ago from Cleveland, Ohio. Berger is a bachelor. When police came, they found his flat locked.

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