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THE MUNICH ELEVEN

They died in Munich, Germany on September 5, 1972. Their deaths are a symbol of sickness, frustration and violence. Their lives are a symbol of strength, hope and love. We remember them for the purpose they gave to their lives and how they gave themselves. Although we cannot forget the way they died, there is much more to be gained in remembering the way they lived
 

 

 DAVID BERGER: Throughout his life, David Berger (28) showed ability, determination, and self-confidence. He was an achiever: physically, mentally, and emotionally, he was constantly giving of himself. He was a National Merit Scholar, graduate of Columbia Law School, member of the U.S. Maccabiah team in both 1965 and 1969, David came to Israel. There he found a new "love of his life". When he settled there in 1970, he volunteered to work with the physically handicapped. The tragedy of David's death should not overshadow the quiet strength of his life. We remember David Berger, the athlete, the idealist, the scholar, the friend and the Jew.

 

YOSEF GUTFREUND: "I owe my life to Yosef Gutfreund", states Tuvia Sokolsky. "He had the first premonition of danger on that fateful September morning. He blocked the door to our room with his massive body shouting at me to escape. He was aptly named. He was a good friend. I owe him my life". Yosef Gutfreund had originally attended medical school in Rumania, hoping to become a veterinarian. But soon he turned to wrestling. He was a favorite referee not only in Israel, but behind the Iron Curtain, too. Munich, was his third Olympics. Yosef was unusual man, warm, smiling, devoted to his work, but more so to his fellow man.

 

MOSHE WEINBERG: Once, a fatherless boy fought to become a man. Moshe Weinberg, 33, raised by his grandmother in Israel, was a fighter in every sense of the word. Against odds others would have deemed insurmountable, he rose to become Israeli Middleweight Wrestling Champion and wrestling coach at the prestigious Wingate Institute. His future was full of hope. Married only eleven months, he now had a warm loving family of his own. Only two weeks before his death, his wife gave birth to a son.


ELIEZER HALFIN: Ironically, Eliezer Halfin met his untimely death at the age of 28, just two month after he had completed his period of service in Zahal – the Israeli Defense Force. Eliezer came to Israel from Russia in 1969, full of dreams and plans. He became a champion wrestler and had just landed a promising career as a technician for "Volkswagen". Then he went to Munich.

 

MARC SLAVIN: "As a young as he was, Marc loved Israel", mourns Grisha Cherniak, Marc's grandfather. "It was he who convinced us to leave the Soviet Union and immigrate to Israel". Luck seemed to be on Marc's side. His exit visa come only two days before the papers drafting him into the Soviet army. At only 18, he was selected for the Israeli Olympic Team after only three month in the country.

 

ZEEV FRIEDMAN: Zeev Friedman (28), was the victim of Germany-based terror from the day of his birth. Born in Siberia where his parents had fled from their native Poland. Zeev overcame physical handicaps to become champion bantamweight weight-lifter in Israel. He was placed third in the Asian games held at Manila.

 

YOSEF ROMANO: At 4:30 a.m. Arab terrorists first broke into the section of the Olympic Village housing the Israeli contingent. Two men gave their live at this time, allowing some of their compatriots to escape. One of these men was Yosef Romano (33), an interior decorator from Libya and a father of three. He was the Israeli weight-lifting champion in the light and middle-weight for nine years.

 

KEHAT SCHORR: "He went to bring us glory", thus mourn his neighbors. Marksmanship was just his hobby. By profession he was an insurance salesman. The many trophies which line the walls of his home speak of a true athlete who loved Israel deeply and would bring pride and glory to his people. Rumanian born Kehat Schorr (53), was responsible for making the Israeli rifle team one of the twenty best in the world.


ANDRE SPITZER: At the time of his death, Andre Spitzer was just realizing a lifelong dream. Faced with financial hardships, he was unable to devote all his time to fencing until one day the "big break" came. He received a scholarship to attend a fencing academy in Holland. He graduated with honors, returning to Israel with a new bride. His death at the young age of 27 is one of the ironies of fate. Andre had been in Holland at the bedside of his two month old infant daughter. September 5th was the first night he spent at the Israeli quarters at the Olympic complex.


 

AMITZUR SHAPIRA: Amitzur Shapira (32), father of four loved sports. It was the focus of his life and the cause of his death. A promising athlete himself, he was devoted not to pursuing his own fame but to that of another. Ten years ago, he had discovered Esther Shachamuruv – Israel's former track and field star. It was through his training and unselfish encouragement that her promise was realized. The day he died, Esther was to have competed in the one hundred meter dash semi-finals at the Olympics. His wife said: "It would have been the proudest day of his life".

 

YAACOV SPRINGER: Many pray for the future, but it is a rare individual who actually gives of himself to assure it. Yaacov Springer, a 51 year old Polish immigrant was on of those few. In addition to being a five time Olympic weight-lifting referee and weight lifting instructor he was a much loved teacher at the Ramot High School in Bat Yam. He gave generously of his free time to organize sports clubs for the slum children in Jaffa, trying to wipe out juvenile delinquency in the best way he knew. He is mourned by his wife, teenage son and daughter and by hundreds of students and slum boys who came to his funeral to pay tribute to this man they loved so dearly.

 

 

 

 

 

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